The last known survivor of the Rosewood Massacre died of lung cancer in hospice at the University of Florida Jacksonville, on May 2, 2018, with family members by her side. Mary Hall Daniels, 98, was just 3 years old when she experienced the mass killing of black people in her hometown of Rosewood in Levy County, Florida. She was believed to have escaped the region being carried by her mother, Mary Davis Hall, and older sister, Margie Hall, through a swamp and onto a train which traveled into Gainesville. Hall Daniels was one of nine siblings, all of whom have also passed away.
In January 1923, a white mob formed in Rosewood following a false claim a black man had sexually assaulted a white woman. The city of Rosewood was all but burned to the ground as people attempted to escape. At least six black people and two white people were believed to be killed, though it is speculated more than 100 black people were killed.
The next month, a Bronson jury found insufficient evidence to charge anyone involved in the massacre.
In the late 1990s, while take my pre-requisites for nursing school, I worked as a part-time security guard at the 42 story Barnett Bank building in downtown Jacksonville. At the time, reparations for the Rosewood Massacre was in the news on the heels of a movie being produced about the incident. I recall Holland & knight was a law firm located inside this building which helped secure the reparations for the descendants of the Rosewood Masscacre. I thought it was a cool thing at the time until I saw the 1997 movie “Rosewood”. The main character, Sylvester Carrier, was played by Don Cheadle who of course did a fine job. After seeing the movie, I realized no amount of money could suffice for what happened to these people, my people. I remember feeling confused, crying and being so angry. I had graduated from Stanton College Preparatory School, a national model school. I had a good education yet, I had never even heard of the Rosewood Massacre. As I reflect on this I have to ask myself how many white people have been assaulted or murdered over black people lying on them? How many predominantly white communities have come undersiege by law enforcement or been burned to the ground by the Black Panthers over lies?
Law enforcement must recognize and reject being weaponized against communities of color. It’s time to call for legislation to address the racial profiling and gentrification tactics which prompt these false “I see black people” police reports.