04 Jan

Remembering the Rosewood Massacre



attribution: Florida Memory Project Call number RC12408.

Remains of Sarah Carrier’s house in Rosewood, Florida, claimed to have been taken January 4, 1923
but probably taken in the days following

Sun Jan 04, 2015 at 06:00 AM PST

Remembering the Rosewood Massacre

byDenise Oliver Velez

One of the reasons that knowing history, especially a history that was covered up and buried, is important, is that it helps explain the present day. When questions are raised, and fingers are pointed—by racists and racism apologists—at the black community for their “culpability” in their own lack of progress in the US, those finger-waggers fail to mention the terrorism that has taken place multiple times against prospering black communities.

Yes, I use the word terrorism.

I use it today for the war being waged against us, and it is solidly linked and welded to past practices by racists in an unbroken chain.

I speak today about the anniversary of the massacre in Rosewood, Florida:

On January 1, 1923 a massacre was carried out in the small, predominantly black town of Rosewood in Central Florida. The massacre was instigated by the rumor that a white woman, Fanny Taylor, had been sexually assaulted by a black man in her home in a nearby community.  A group of white men, believing this rapist to be a recently escaped convict named Jesse Hunter who was hiding in Rosewood, assembled to capture this man. Prior this event a series of incidents had stirred racial tensions within Rosewood. During the previous winter of 1922 a white school teacher from Perry had been murdered and on New Years Eve of 1922 there was a Ku Klux Klan rally held in Gainesville, located not far away from Rosewood.In response to the allegation by Taylor, white men began to search for Jesse Hunter, Aaron Carrier and Sam Carter who were believed to be accomplices. Carrier was captured and incarcerated while Carter was lynched. The white mob suspected Aaron’s cousin, Sylvester Carrier, a Rosewood resident of harboring the fugitive, Jesse Hunter.

On January 4, 1923 a group of 20 to 30 white men approached the Carrier home and shot the family dog. When Sylvester’s mother Sarah came to the porch to confront the mob they shot and killed her. Sylvester defended his home, killing two men and wounding four in the ensuing battle before he too was killed. The remaining survivors fled to the swamps for refuge where many of the African American residents of Rosewood had already retreated, hoping to avoid the rising conflict and increasing racial tension. The next day the white mob burned the Carrier home before joining with a group of 200 men from surrounding towns who had heard erroneously that a black man had killed two white men. As night descended the mob attacked the town, slaughtering animals and burning buildings. An official report claims six blacks killed along with two whites. Other accounts suggest a larger total. At the end of the carnage only two buildings remained standing, a house and the town general store.

This history is far more complicated than this brief summary, particularly because it was covered up and buried, and like all history it is connected to present day racist attitudes toward blacks, and the fears black communities have of white violence.

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