“The Long Silence is broken and the Shadow Lifted” Rosewood Massacre
Refusing to give anyone his gun to kill black people of Rosewood, one man said he would not have his ” hands wet with blood”.
With a fever-pitch, this small town in Florida had gone from peaceful to a terrible blood bath. The reason? One woman lied about being attacked by a black man.
This was the south…the deep south. Slavery was no longer, but slavery in the hearts and segregation drew deep lines of tension and suspension between the races. Hard working blacks, then called “colored” worked in the timber mills and the pencil factory of Cedar Key. Many blacks were Masons and had black churches of faith. They were land owners in a predominately black community. The white people had moved to Sumner, Florida.
Blood revenge; stringing up from the nearest tree, or running blacks into the alligator, mosquito-ridden swamp was the order of the day. For those who lived through this terrible period of history, it is hard to imagine the difference in opportunities for all races today…including their own. Those were frightening, terror-filled hours. Houses were burned. Children saw their parents murdered and the white people of the area were drawn into this dangerous time.
Few understood the effect that it would have on generations to come. Few cared. Few looked past the moment. Only those who refused to take part could walk away from such a disaster with some sense of dignity. But the community guilt was still there. Every black person was driven out or left Rosewood.
Years later, Florida became the first in the nation to compensate victims of Racial violence. “The legislature passed and Florida Governor, Lawton Chiles, signed the Rosewood Compensation Bill, a $2.1 million package to compensate survivors and their descendants. Seven survivors and their family members were present at the signing to hear Chiles say,
“Because of the strength and commitment of these survivors and their families, the long silence has finally been broken and the shadow has been lifted…
Instead of being forgotten, because of their testimony, the Rosewood story is known across our state and across our nation. Now, across the world. This legislation assures that the tragedy of Rosewood will never be forgotten by the generations to come.”
May it be a reminder everywhere that there can be light…even in darkness…if people will do what is right regardless of the terrible wrongs.