Eva D. Coleman, Lifestyle and Culture Editor | Texas Metro News
Two former bank robbers, affectionately known as “FoxandRob” walked into First United Bank in downtown Dallas dressed in all white on June 17, 2022 and delivered the most powerful speech on what it means to be free.
If you don’t know their “love story,” which includes over two decades of incarceration to clemency, check out the Amazon Original, multi-award winning “Time” documentary. They plan to release an expansive book with more details in 2023.
The New Orleans based couple, Sibil Fox and Robert Richardson were first introduced to attendees waiting in the First United Bank lobby for the soul food inspired lunch catered by Creations by Dajae to be served. Fox, who prefers Fox Rich, confirmed with Texas Metro News that FoxandRob is “a-n-d” not an ampersand placed together with no spaces because they are “never getting away from each other.”
They spoke passionately about the success of African American families that so many do not see and their admiration for journalists who tell the stories.
Everyone settled in their seats which all included a Juneteenth “church fan,” information cards about the national holiday also known as Freedom Day which commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans (two-years delayed in the south), and the official WhoHQ book, “What Is Juneteenth?”
The program was progressing.
Then, the boom happened.
The high school sweethearts who’ve known each other for 35 years and have been married for 25 years captivated the attention of all in the room.
Rob Rich, who called their visit a “crusade,” introduced his wife and literal partner in crime, giving adoration for her commitment to him after her own release from prison that led to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards granting him clemency in 2018.
“The star of “Time” is none other than Fox Rich,” Rob Rich said. “Fox Rich is a mother of six outstanding sons; sons that I’m glad to have gone half with her on.”
Drawing laughter from the crowd, he continued.
“She is a published author, a cultural provocateur, and according to Historically Black Colleges and University students, she was considered the most realest speaker of the 21st century.”
Rob Rich also said that in 2021, the Critics’ Choice Awards considered Fox Rich the most compelling subject of a documentary or film.
“She is by far the most dynamic person that I’ve ever met in my life,” he said.
With the audience gathered in the room and others joining virtually from First United Bank branches throughout Texas and Oklahoma, Rob Rich encouraged a big Texas round of applause as Fox Rich made her way to the microphone.
With her strong voice and personality, the Grambling State University graduate who holds a Bachelor of Science degree and master’s degree in Public Administration schooled the crowd on social injustices and the innate will to fight for African Americans who break the law.
Throughout their speech, FoxandRob emphatically admitted and took responsibility for the bank robbery crime they committed. The focus was on the familial impact when at least one family member is incarcerated.
“When they got one of us, they got all of us!” Fox Rich said. “They got our money, they got our time, they got our hearts, they got our minds. They got all of us!”
She shared about her unrelenting focus to bring her husband, a first-time offender for taking $5000 and a property crime sentenced to 60 years in prison, home.
Her efforts are on the miscarriages of justice and prevention.
“If you know anybody Black, you’ve got to tell them that statistics and studies have proven that when people of color go before the criminal justice system, they do not receive the same justice that is given to people who have committed the same offenses that are of different race,” she said.
“What does it mean to be free?” Fox Rich asked. “It wasn’t until I became a slave again that I understood.”
Fox Rich cited how she enslaved herself by committing a crime, stating that she “checked herself into slavery by breaking the law.”
She shared scenarios of not having control of your own person while imprisoned, to when released, not being allowed freedoms that others enjoy such as the right to vote.
“After I did my time, and when I get home and I realized like those slaves in June 19, 1865, I ain’t got nothing but the clothes on my back and a will to live, and a will to use my freedom for the greater good of all mankind,” Fox Rich said. “It shows you the power of the human spirit. That power rests and rules in every last one of us in this room. That power is at the forefront, I believe, of the basic principles of this institution [First United Bank] that says, ‘Spend Life Wisely.’ You don’t get but one.”
Fox Rich implored others to think about racism and skin color. She mused about the interests of others with non-melanated skin to use the sun, tanning beds and creams.
Her speech, of which she constantly had the audience repeating “freedom is a reason to be celebrated,” was real, raw, relevant and left many with very few words to say afterwards, including First United Bank CEO Greg Massey who seemed inspired and shared his bank’s commitment to “get it right.”
The love between FoxandRob was profoundly evident. They personified the term “ride or die.” Many in the room were moved by their presence.
The event was organized by First United Bank Vice President and Spend Life Wisely (Community Relations) Ambassador Patrice Withers who felt FoxandRob were a great fit for their celebration.
“Our bank exists to inspire and empower others to spend life wisely,” Withers said. “FoxandRob’s story is one of love and impact that they continue to make beyond their family. It is also an example of what current day slavery looks like.”
Fox Rich constantly shared, “To be free is to free others.”
It was a masterful display in the necessity of freeing minds from judgment of those who make mistakes and the realities of redemption. Their story is also heavily rooted in commitment to family and faith.
“I know that my God is a forgiving God,” Fox Rich said. “And if my God can forgive me for my transgressions, then I know that I can forgive myself, and I know that I can forgive my fellow man for transgressions.”
The Participatory Defense Movement Nola, an organization founded by FoxandRob, helps families navigate the criminal justice system. For more information, visit pdmnola.org.