New Book on Ruby McCollum Murder Case Released by Gadfly Publishing
“Ruby McCollum (August 31, 1909 – May 23, 1992) was a wealthy African-American housewife known for killing a prominent Caucasian doctor and Florida Senator elect in 1952 who she maintained had abused her and forced her to have sex and bear his child.” – Wikipedia.org
Hall of Mirrors breaks down the presentist and confirmation biases of the life and trial of Ruby McCollum in 3 poignant chapters that are structured in an academic, journalistic fashion and are designed to elucidate the innocence of the protagonist--not from the crime itself, but from actual moral wrong-doing. Presenting the facts objectively, Dr. Ellis, the most renowned Ruby researcher of his time, returns a decade after he compiled the definitive transcription of McCollum's courtroom case to give his own interesting account of recent revisionist versions of the story through a retrospective analysis that seeks to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about Ruby McCollum.
The author shines through the shortsightedness of fellow commentators to demonstrate the fact that Ruby, by choosing her own destiny, regardless of what the legality of the setting might have been back then, had become the Rosa Parks of her time.
"McCollum also created her own values to bring meaning to her own life through a steadfast commitment to define herself according to her own terms, regardless of the race, class and gender issues that she faced in the Jim Crow South."
An important theme in recounting this story is to let Ruby McCollum speak for herself, through her own letters written from prison. Here, she reveals herself as a powerful person, not a helpless victim of continuous rape as others have contended, who fights for her right to exist authentically and on her own terms. On several occasions, she signs her letters with the powerful expression, "Regardless to color, I am Ruby."
In telling the truth, Ellis contends that Ruby's decision to murder her paramour was, in fact, her own--one separate from the many pressures and competing urges she, and all of us, face on a daily basis--and that regardless of the will to choose, it was a "reasoned choice," a death sentence for her abusive lover rather than an act of pure self-preservation.
Through testimonies from contemporary friends and foes of the trial that support Ruby's case and her autonomy when committing a homicide, Ellis does well to remain as loyal and objective to the image of Mrs. McCollum and her criminal circumstances as possible.
Ellis meticulously makes his case that the McCollum trial was instrumental in the struggle for civil rights since it was the first documented case in which a woman of color was allowed to take the witness stand in her own defense in a trial charging her with killing a white person. The author places this trial in context, beginning with a similar trial prior to the Civil War, continuing to a case prior to McCollum's in the Jim Crow South, and ending with the McCollum trial. With this timeline, he establishes a clear course of progress toward social justice in America's courtrooms.
Ellis ends Hall of Mirrors with an excellent understanding of real morality that offers a third way of looking at right and wrong--beyond black and white law--by promoting the tenets of Existentialist burden and the reliance of identity to foster the correct choice of acting authentically in a bind, it shows us that actions do really speak louder than words.
--excerpts from The Hungry Monster Book Review. Read an interview with the author and purchase book from Amazon at: hungrymonsterreview.wordpress.com/