Governor Hoey's lack of sympathy for an African-American teen sentenced to death
Green remembers Governor Clyde Hoey's lack of sympathy for an eighteen-year-old African American sentenced to death for rape. Public pressure for commutation eventually forced Hoey's hand, but Green was shocked at Hoey's callousness, he remembers.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Paul Green, May 30, 1975. Interview B-0005-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
- PAUL GREEN:
Well, there was a fellow over there named Roebuck, I think
that's his name. A sixteen year old boy sentenced to die,
this was a little before Fred, and I went to see Governor Hoey. A
wonderful church man, Governor Hoey, Bible class leader. Every Sunday,
hearing the sermon, sitting there and drinking it in. I said,
"Governor, surely you are not going to let this boy die,
he's only sixteen, you can't." No, he was
only fifteen. He said, "Paul, he weighs 185 pounds.
He's a man. He raped a woman up there in Buncombe County,
Asheville." "But he's not old
enough." "No, Paul, he is a criminal." I got
real sore and he said, "Let me show you something,"
and he picked up a letter from the sheriff of Buncombe County. It said,
"Dear Governor, I hear that there is a movement of some of the
radicals in North Carolina about this boy Roebuck. He is a criminal
…" He read on. "I remember time and again
walking the streets at night, or some of my men, and finding him robbing
garbage cans as a boy ten years old. He has been at it since he was ten
years old." He said, "You see, Paul, he is just
naturally a criminal." I said, "Great God, Governor,
the poor boy was hungry." Ten years old and robbing a garbage
can! Anyhow, there was such a stink raised about this fellow that they
commuted his sentence to life and as far as I know, he is still in
prison. But to hear the governor say that!