The Other Side of Silence: The Untold Story of Ruby McCollum

Two Florida film festivals will host Claudia Johnson’s award-winning film “The Other Side of Silence: The Untold Story of Ruby McCollum” this weekend


Ft. Lauderdale, FL January 14, 2013/Press Release

Claudia Johnson’s documentary The Other Side of Silence: The Untold Story of Ruby McCollum was awarded “Best Florida Documentary” at the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival, and will be screened at two Florida film festivals this weekend: The Black Film Festival in Tallahassee on January 19 at 5:30 p.m. in Florida State University’s Student Life Building, and the St. Augustine Film Festival on January 20th at 2 p.m. in the Gamche-Koger Theatre.

Johnson’s compelling and deeply compassionate film follows her nineteen-year quest to penetrate the mysterious silence surrounding the story of Ruby McCollum, well-educated wife of numbers racketeer 'Bolita' Sam and the richest African American woman in Live Oak, Florida, convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to the electric chair for the murder of her white doctor and alleged lover, LeRoy Adams, on August 3, 1952. News of the interracial murder shocked the region, the state, and the nation, escalating racial tension in Live Oak that remains to this day, almost sixty years later.

“It’s still an unbelievably controversial hot topic in town,” Johnson says in the film’s opening. “This story they do not want told.” In spite of warnings there will be repercussions -- and a terrifying death threat -- she believes Ruby's story has to be told because she’s discovered startling new information that Live Oak’s corrupt white power structure has been covering up since 1952.

A nationally recognized advocate for free speech, Johnson connects deeply to Ruby’s story when she discovers that Ruby was silenced, on the stand and to the press. Zora Neale Hurston, who covered the notoriously unfair trial, concluded that “the truth lay on the other side of silence.” Johnson vows to find out why Ruby was silenced and why she killed LeRoy Adams.

She didn't, as Johnson comes to believe when two courageous African Americans risk everything and break their long silence.

For more information or to view the trailer visit

About Claudia Johnson

Writer and documentarian Claudia Johnson is the author of the critically acclaimed Stifled Laughter: One Woman’s Story About Fight Censorship, nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and winner of the inaugural P.E.N./Newman’s Own First Amendment Award. A member of the founding faculty at Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts where she teaches screenwriting, she is also the author of Crafting Short Screenplays That Connect, now in its 3rd edition. She is currently in post-production for a documentary film about Birmingham artist Patricia Ellisor Gaines.