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Rosewood, the Study, the Case, the Story

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Rosewood, The Story, The Study, The Case
Central State University ATH-111

This case study focuses on Rosewood, Florida; a once flourishing African American colony annihilated in the course of a weeklong occurrences of violence in early January of 1923. This study will show the effects of segregation in the United States, which continued after laws were passed, but unfortunately ignored by people who wanted to continue to have power, social control, and inequality over an indigenous group of human being living within their community.
Rosewood is a true, however historically-stifled chain of events that took place in small blooming town in Rosewood, Florida. Rosewood industry was cedar wood and mills, and a railroad station that transported products, communal relations between the towns of Rosewood and Sumner were one of tolerance. The African American community were aware of the inequality that was afforded to them, but also made every effort to build a culture of stability, and building a new cultural identity of freedom within an almost self-sufficient predominately African American community in spite of the power structure of its white neighbors and systematic racism (Dye, 1997).
With the accusation of violence against a white women the mob viewed this act a direct threat to their social structure and the legacy. Social hierarchy played a major role in the mobs attitude, the violence was almost immediate, and within six days the accusation caused ominous consequences that affected the whole community of Rosewood and those that played a part in its destruction (Singleton, 1982).
Historical Archaeologist Dr. Edward González-Tennant (2016), visited and recorded family members of those who are claim to have witness accounts of the morning of allege attack of Mrs. Taylor, the White women of the neighboring town of Sumner, Florida. Family members claimed Mrs. Taylors attack was a façade to hide her extramarital digression that turned violent, and the attacker was her white lover. As a result her words of being attacked by a black intruder spilled fuel to a fire that was simmering with jealously, hate, and the fear of losing control and power. What was different with the people of Rosewood from past acts in the Deep South was the bold act of Rosewood residents fighting back. Mr. Wright the lone white grocer and resident of Rosewood, took a chance at bucking the cultural norms, by hiding some of the residents until they could have clear passage and his actions helped to save many residents of Rosewood. Furthermore, the act of fighting back was considered a turning point in race relation. African Americans who stood up for the rights in the 1920s lead to death, beatings, jail, or the total destruction of the town like Rosewood, and Tulsa, OK African American communities, yet these residents decided to risk everything to stand up for what they believed could bring equity (Singleton, 1982).
The culture of the mob was imbedded in the men from childhood, from slavery to 1923, these men seek to maintain dominance through systems of beliefs behaviors, and is prevalent in the White dominated U.S. culture which some still feel people of color are inferior to whites (, 2015).
Although the sheriff of Levy County tried his best to calm the angry mob, his attempts were fruitless the anger within the mob was beyond humane, the Sheriffs warned African Americans, and saved a captured man from the mob, he could no longer live up to his promise to up hold the law, and lied to the Governor of Florida with a statement of stability within Rosewood while they were still hunting the African Americans (Dye, 1997).
No charges were ever filed against the antagonizers or those who fought to protect their families, this act of social injustice within the United States Government, was the cultural norm for Southern States in these times. African American heritage was willfully erased from the physical landscape of Central Florida, and it took 60 plus years and years of hard work to get this story to its recognition and reparation for its acts (Davidson, Gonzàlez-Tennnant, 2008).
According to Gary B, Nash (2000), “Race inequality, often splicing together with class and gender inequality, has proved extraordinarily resistant in the quest to achieve the democratic ideas that American society has long professed”, Furthermore, racism is not only a form of personal oppression due to racial prejudice, it is prevalent at institutional levels as well as cultural levels. As a result, all are interrelated into one hypothesis that defines racism (Tatum, 2001). Jim Crow laws were in effect in 1923, and had been since 1881, and this systems belief was Caucasians were superior to African Americans, Mexicans or any other race besides Caucasians and they weren’t afforded the same treatment as those who passed the law. Jim Crow was a legal law which created segregation, and social interaction, amongst African Americans and White Americans, in schools churches, neighborhoods, water fountains, entertainment and business in 26 states in the United States until the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed. However, the social system of 11 states (The Confederate States) of the Deep South were opposed to the freedom of slavery, and the Civil Rights Acts, these 11 states felt that African Americans were not humans beings, they were second class citizen and were the indigenous groups within the United States and for that reason, equal treatment of any African American was unacceptable (Tischauser, 2012).
Discourse and disparity for African Americans was incredibly high in the 1920s. Race riots in Chicago and Oklahoma and hangings were prevalent, the KKK were growing in numbers, beatings were normal, and murder was accepted despite living in a country that praised equality to all its people, and also have gone to war with countries who were opposed to it (, 2015).
African American were ironically bound into an social stratification of race inequality, that was prevalent in the southern states during this period despite the efforts of people like John Wright who tried to rid of this type of coercion in the United States. As a result of this inequality social change of the 1900s came in the form of migration to the North by many African American for reasons such as injustices, better opportunities for their families, and trying to find a place in a society where the power structure was changing for African Americans (Messer, 2008). The North also offered the harsh realities of racism and injustice, however the North offer hope with leaders such as, Booker T Washington, William Du Bois and Jamaican born activist Marcus Garvey, whose writings, speeches and teachings uplifted the African American community to have pride, and encouraged African Americans to educate themselves to be independent from the White man (, 2015).
We can look at the relationship between the African American community and the White community through the kinship system. While kinship groups are exclusive and usually share relations by blood and marriage, the kindship group in Rosewood included the African American residents of Rosewood, through social groups like work, school, and church. Also, the white store owner became part of this kinship through social a relationship for those he worked so close with and patronized his business made his decision to hide the families of Rosewood an act of humanity. Although the people of Rosewood were considered to be free people, the social relations (un-fair treatment of minority’s) within the Southern States of the Unites States took precedence over what was written into Law, “equality among all people”, and the African American community knew they would not have backing from the government or law enforcement from their past experiences with racial violence and injustice targeted at them.
We can look at the relationship between the African American community and the White community through the kinship system. While kinship groups are exclusive and usually share relations by blood and marriage, the kindship group in Rosewood included the African American residents of Rosewood, through social groups like work, school, and church. Mr. Wright showed a kinship through social relationships for the residents he worked so close with and also for those who patronized his business made his decision to hide the families of Rosewood an act of humanity. Cultural behaviors are taught, learned and absorbed.
Although many in our nation are not educated on the history of Rosewood or many other race relation disturbances, which started in during slavery, escalated during Segregation and continued through the 1960’s, the work of Edward Gonzàlez-Tennnant continues to shed light on this and other tragedies within our nation. This study has shed light on events within our culture that are so sad, however is a learning lesson on how human behavior is taught and cultural norms are learned, however new societies can be formed, and cultural norms and behaviors change, and what was once treatment of inequality, and power hierarchy, becomes systematic equality, institutions, government, and law enforcement are held accountable to treat Americans as equals. The cultural behavior choice of the past was to hide and forget Rosewood, Florida, however someone spoke and broke that cycle of power, and decided that they are equal, and most importantly social changes, and hierarchy of power for African Americans group has changed abundantly.

Vudo Movies and TV, Rosewood 1997 (, 2015).

Ruins of a burned African-American home: Rosewood (January 4, 1923) (, 2015).


Davidson, J; Gonzàlez-Tennnant, E (2008). A Potential Archaeology of Rosewood, Florida, SAA The Archaeological Record, p 13-16.
Dye, R. T.. (1997). The Rosewood Massacre: History and the Making of Public Policy. The Public Historian, 19(3), 25–39.
Florida Memory State Library & Archives of Florida (2015). Photographic Collection. Retrieved from:
Holladay, J. R. (2000). White anti-racist activism: A Personal Roadmap. Roselle, NJ: Crandall, Dostie & Douglas Books. Retrieved from:
Nash, G. B. (2000). Red, White, and Black: The Peoples of Early North America. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Many Things (2012). Blacks Set Out in Search of Better Life in 1920s American Society. Retrieved from:
Messer, C. (2008). The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921: Determining Its Causes and Its Framing, ProQuest p16-49
Mind Edge (2016). In Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. Chapter 1-8. Retrieved from:
Singleton, J. (1982). Rosewood. United States: Warner Brothers.
Tatum, B. D. (2001). Defining Racism: Can We Talk. Race, Class, and Gender in the United States: An Integrated Study, p 100-107.
Tischauser, L. V. (2012). Jim Crow Laws. ABC-CLIO, 11-15.
Tolerance (2015). Teaching Tolerance. On Racism and White Privilege. Retrieved from:
Vudu (2015). Vudu Movies & TV New/Rosewood Overview. Retrieved from:!content/9120/Rosewood

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