Perhaps Black History Month is the appropriate time to mention one of Cobb County’s leading citizens, Phillip Robuck, who died earlier this month at the age of 83. A native of South Carolina, he made a life and career here at North Cobb High School, then stints with The Ivan Allen Company, WSB Television and Radio, then in administration with the school system. He is remembered fondly and with great respect by those who knew him.
One of his greatest contributions to the community occurred in the 1966-67 school year. The student body had been integrated just a few years earlier with little or no disruption and the brave Black students were successfully assimilated into the student body and made their various contributions.
There remained the question of the faculty and its integration. I don’t know how the final decision was made, but among Robuck, Principal Steve Cantrell, the School Board, and the Black teacher, Rufus Byrd, the decision was made that Robuck and Byrd would team-teach that first year. I was in their American Government class.
The decision was a good one and those involved made certain of its success. Robuck, whom we knew well and respected deeply, and Byrd, whom we did not know at all, alternated in front of the class. They shared conversations, lecture time, and smiles. Their relationship was one of mutual respect and appreciation.
We were young people and took our cues from our elders. These men worked well together and I suppose that, quite unknowingly, we learned how people of different races could find common ground and do a good thing. I think that none of us realized the magnificence of the moment in front of us.
I realize that litigation and social reform are necessary to correct the ways of the past and are taking place, but a crucial component of a peaceful world is the simple realization that there are commonalities among us, commonalities that must be cherished, protected, and, more importantly, lived daily. Those commonalities transcend our differences . They transcend race, gender, age, theologies, and any other differences. The very best among us realize these things and live the glorious truths that unite us. Thank you, Rufus Byrd, and thank you, Phillip Robuck.
Sam R. Matthews