American Pogrom:

Rosewood, Florida
January 1923

Rosewood had initially been mixed-race, but Black Codes and Jim Crow laws plus the closure of the pencil factory had left its 200-person population almost entirely Black, save for a White shop owner, by the 1920s.

The precipitating incident, as was often the case, was a reported attack of a White woman by a Black man. The woman’husband gathered a mob, which included KKK members gathered for a rally nearby. One of the initial suspects was beaten and dragged behind a car before the sheriff intervened. Another man, the local blacksmith, was suspected of harboring the alleged culprit. The mob tortured him until he agreed to lead them to the man they were looking for, and shot him and hung him from a tree when their search was fruitless.

Another part of the mob surrounded the house of Sarah Carrier, where 25 people, mostly children, had taken refuge. She and her son were shot and killed, as were two White attackers. In the morning, the attackers broke down te door, but the children escaped.

News of the standoff at the Carrier house spread, with newspapers inflating the number dead and falsely reporting bands of armed Black citizens going on a rampage. Even more white men poured into the area believing that a race war had broken out.

They burned the churches. Then they started on the houses. By January 7, nearly every house in the town had been leveled, and its Black residents never returned. The horrifying events faded from memory until 1982, when Gary Moore, writing for the St. Petersburg Times, wrote a series of articles that gained national attention. In 1997, John Singleton dramatized the story in his film Rosewood.

The main source for this is “Rosewood Massacre. Read more from Zinn Education Project, the Guardian, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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