Interview with Ruby Sales

OK, Ruby, I want you to take a nice deep breath now and I want you to tell me about August 20th when you were released from Hayneville jail.


We were released from jail after about a week or so of having been in jail, um, and th- suddenly there this announcement from the jailer that we were all free to go home and I was very suspicious of that. I wanted to know why were we being released. Ah,, I just did not trust that suddenly without penalty we would be allowed to go free and I questioned that and the jailer told me that we were being released on our own reconnaissance. Well of course that then began to red flag me because it was just very incongruent with the blindness of their racism that they would release us in our reconnaissance, on our, on our word when they didn't think we even had a word. So I was a little concerned about that. The other thing that bothered me tremendously and I tried to raise some questions was that there was no one to meet us because I knew enough about Stokely Carmichael and how we had worked together that if there was any, and, and also the local people, the Jacksons, that if were being released from jail, their commitment was such that they would be there to meet us. So that was also another red flag for me. But, ah, the, the deputy and the sheriff told us that, to stop asking questions and that we had to get out. And so finally someone said, "Well I guess we should go." And so we left and it was becoming even more apparent that, that, well we just didn't feel comfortable because there was no one around and there was a kind of eerie feeling as if suddenly the streets had been, were deserted and we could not locate a Black face anywhere on the street and we, we were very hot and, and very tired and someone decided that perhaps while we were waiting to be picked up it would be a good idea to go and get something to drink because it was one of those hot summer days that the South, where you could literally feel the heat coming out of the pavement, and, ah, we had not been very comfortable drinking the water in jail. And so the group designated, Jonathan Daniels, Father Morrisroe, Joyce Bailey and myself to go and get the sodas. And so as we were walking, my, my anxiety was beginning to increase and I kind of turned to people and I said, "I don't really feel, I feel very uncomfortable. Something is dreadfully wrong." Well in that kind of situation, I mean the people said, "No, it's OK. Let's go and get a soda and people will show up." And so when we got to the, to the store, as we approached the store and began to go up the steps, suddenly standing there was Tom Coleman, at, at that time I didn't know his name. I found that out later. And, I recognized that he had a shotgun and I recognized that he was yelling something about Black bitches. But in some real ways with that confrontation my mind kind of blanked and I wasn't processing all that was happening and so as I was trying to process the meaning of this suddenly I felt a tug, 'cause I was in front and Jonathan was behind me and I felt a tug and someone, and the next thing I knew there this blast, and I had fallen down and I, and I remember thinking, "God, this is what it feels like to be dead." I, I thought I was dead. I, I, and just as I was trying to sort of deal with being dead I, I heard another shot go off and I, and, and, then I heard, and I looked down and I was covered with blood and I just knew I had been shot and I didn't realize that Jonathan had been shot at that point. I thought I was I was the one that had been shot. And then I heard, ah, when the second shot went off I heard Father Morrisroe crying for water and I realized that he had been shot. And I also thought that Joyce Bailey had also been shot. And I kind of said, made a decision, when I realized that I really, that I would just lie there and maybe if I lie there then he would really think that I was dead and then I could get help for the other people, that I could sort of somehow get up. And he walked over me and kicked me and, and, you know, in his blind rage, he thought I was dead. And Joyce Bailey had escaped and in running she ran back around the, the store to the side near a car, an old abandoned car and she was calling out our names. She was calling Ruby, Jonathan, Ruby, Jonathan and I heard her and I got up and I, I didn't get up, stand up, I crawled literally on my knees to, to the side of the car where she was and when, when I got to her she picked me up and we began to run across the street and he realized that I wasn't dead and at that point he started shooting and saying and yelling things that I was not sure what he had said and we were, Joyce and I were running across the street for dear life and we were screaming and yelling and, and there was nobody. And--