Blood on the Suwannee, C. Arthur Ellis, Jr., Ph.D.
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Blood on the Suwannee

Author: C. Arthur Ellis, Jr., Ph.D.

Narrator: Trei Taylor

Unabridged: 12 hr 45 min

Format: Digital Audiobook

Publisher: Findaway Voices

Published: 02/22/2021

Genre: History - United States - State & Local - South (al, Ar, Fl, Ga, Ky, La, Ms, Nc, Sc, Tn, Va, Wv)

Includes: Bonus Material


Many African Americans living along the banks of North Florida’s Suwannee River still refuse to eat catfish caught from its murky waters, knowing that these bottom feeders had at some point dined on the decaying corpses of their lynched relatives.

This book chronicles how the illegal gambling game of bolita, from its birth in segregationist Suwannee County in the 1930s to its death in the 1950s, led to Blood on the Suwannee. Necessarily, the cast of characters changes over the course of three decades.

Bolita’s first casualty was the surreptitious murder of a prominent white bolita queen in the 1930s that inadvertently led to the expansion of bolita and bootleg liquor in the county.

The second casualty—the untimely drowning death of fifteen-year-old Willie James Howard at the hands of Klansmen for the crime of sending a Christmas card to a white girl—is the little-known legacy of an African American Everyman in the segregationist South.

The third casualty is the nationally publicized 1952 murder of Dr. C. LeRoy Adams, a white physician and state senator-elect, by Ruby McCollum, the black wife of the county’s bolita king.

These three stories take readers down memory lane, portraying a time in history when law enforcement originated in slave patrols formed to return "property" to plantation owners. The book foreshadows how the past continues to reflect in the present and the unfortunate decay of the justice system—especially as it affects African Americans—and how a white police force can hold the power over the breath of life.

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