Curtis Roberts, 76
and Florence Roberts, 74
I met with husband and wife Curtis and Florence Roberts in their living room.
“I remember there were two black guys. They were two brothers. They went crabbing or fishing in Sunbury and they didn’t return. Black people could go out on boats, but they couldn’t go out for leisure. When they went missing the black people gathered every day. People went looking for them. After three days they were found. It was suspected that they were murdered and thrown into the water at Sunbury. This was around 1963 or 1964. They were Grover Lee Cox and his younger brother, Rev. Roosevelt Cox. They lived on Smiley Hill. The official investigation said they drowned, but everybody knew that they had been murdered by some white boys down at the river. That case was never solved,” Roberts said.
“One Saturday, I was going to play baseball in Midway. I was walking alongside Highway 38 and Highway 84 toward Midway and a group of white boys were driving toward Sunbury, and they crossed the road and into the lane in the opposite direction and pointed a pistol at me. I moved back toward the ditch and fell down. And they all just laughed.”
Florence Roberts, 74
A native of Midway, Florence Roberts interjected:
“There’s just no point in trying to dress it up,” she said. “White people were mean and full of hatred. Black people just got sick and tired of being sick and tired! In Hinesville, you couldn’t drink out of the water fountain. Black people had to go on the side of the building to drink from the faucet.”
She continued, “My grandfather was a black man who looked like a white man. He was very fair. When he would go to a grocery store near the railroad, the person at the counter would not take his money directly from his hand for fear of touching him. I remember one time he was so fed up with the racial prejudice that he threw the money on the counter and walked out. The whites would look at you all crazy for fighting for your rights. Or they yelled all kinds of nasty things at you. The white-owned facilities would take our money, but they would treat us so bad. I just started going to Savannah.”
Glass-Hill is a scholar, author and public historian, known for her research on the life of Liberty County’s native daughter Susie Baker King Taylor. She is the executive director of the Susie King Taylor Women’s Institute and Ecology Center in Midway. For more information about the National Civil Rights Trail visit civilrightstrail.com