Editor’s note: This is the fourth part of a series examining what life was like for African-Americans in Liberty County before and during the civil rights movement.
Curtis Roberts, 76
Curtis Roberts is the fifth of 13 children. He lives in Midway with his wife Florence, but Roberts was born in Savannah.
“My father worked for Seaboard,” Roberts said. “But after the war that company cut back and it became an economic hardship. So, in 1948, my parents moved to Midway where they sharecropped for a white farmer ….
“This was good because it was a means to feed a large family. It was about 25 to 30 acres of land, a pretty big field. We planted beans, greens, field peas, okra, corn, and we planted stuff for the hogs, cows and horses. We didn’t have to buy milk. We were pretty self-sufficient. Eventually, my father and (the farmer) had a falling out because when it came time to do the exchange of produce and meat, he offered my father some unfair amount. He figured since he supplied the land, house and tools, he could cheat my father. So, we moved off of the place which is where Lake Gale is. We then moved to where Adeline’s curve is heading to Sunbury. It was a two-story plantation style farmhouse. Then my father took a job at REA Electric Company as a bush-cutter.
“I moved here when I was in the second grade. I attended the Moose Hill School from the second to the sixth grade. It was a school in the community, Midway area. I went to Liberty Elementary School. My seventh grade teacher was Mr. Morrison. Liberty County High School is where I graduated in 1962. When the school system moved the schools, the idea was to destroy the history of black people. It was a way of controlling our history. All of the schools were segregated,” Roberts said.
“The social conditions were okay if you stayed in your place. The whites treated you pretty good if you stayed in your place.”
Up next: More on the long road to civil rights in Liberty County, including recollection of unsolved deaths.
Glass-Hill is a scholar, author and public historian. She is the executive director of the Susie King Taylor Women’s Institute and Ecology Center in Midway.