100 Years After Rosewood, Just One House RemainsBreaking News
tags: racism, Florida, African American history, Rosewood Massacre
In January 1923, a White mob descended on the predominantly Black town of Rosewood, Fla., torturing and killing Black residents. In its seven-day reign of racist terror, the mob torched Black-owned houses, churches and businesses. Some Black people hid in swamps and woods to escape violence so destructive that 100 years later, all that is left standing of the entire town of Rosewood is a scorched landscape containing a historic marker and a single house.
That two-story house once belonged to John Wright, a White resident and store owner in Rosewood who hid Black people escaping the White mob until they could board a train out of town.
“What happened in Rosewood is a sad story,” said Lizzie Robinson Jenkins, 84, the president of the Real Rosewood Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Rosewood’s history. “It’s an ugly part of history, but it’s one everybody needs to hear.”
Jenkins’s aunt, Mahulda Gussie Brown Carrier, who worked as the schoolteacher in Rosewood, was assaulted in the massacre. “It has been a struggle telling this story over the years because a lot of people don’t want to hear about this kind of history,” Jenkins said. “But my mother told me to keep it alive, so I keep telling it. We have to keep our history alive.”
The official death toll of the Rosewood Massacre, which began on Jan. 1, 1923, is listed by the state of Florida as five Black people and two White people. Some historians believe many more Black residents were killed — possibly hundreds.
The pogrom in Rosewood followed other racist terror massacres across the country, including the 1908 Springfield Massacre in Illinois; the 1917 East St. Louis Massacre in Illinois; the 1919 Elaine Massacre in Arkansas, the 1920 Ocoee Massacre in Florida and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in Oklahoma.
Before the massacre, Rosewood, near the Gulf of Mexico, was a town of about 100 people where some Black residents owned land and houses, surrounded by vegetable gardens and orange trees.
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