The Associated Press
January 1, 2004
ROSEWOOD — A "peace and healing" ceremony marking the 81st anniversary of the Rosewood massacre, in which a black settlement in Levy County was destroyed by a white mob, will be held Thursday to remember those killed and preserve their history.
Lizzie Jenkins, a Rosewood descendant and president of the Real Rosewood Foundation, called the attack "one of the bloodiest acts of terrorism in the state, resulting in seven recorded deaths, injuries, shattered dreams, derailed lives, burglarized homes and the burning down of the town."
"It is a time in history for healing, forgiving and preservation. When we preserve Rosewood's history, we preserve America's history."
The horror began New Year's morning 1923, when a married white woman, Fannie Taylor, emerged bruised and beaten from her home and accused a black man of beating her.
As word spread, angry whites besieged Rosewood and its 120 residents, burning nearly every structure in a week of destruction. The number of people killed during the massacre remains controversial. State records say six blacks and two whites were killed while descendants speak of mass graves containing as many as 37 bodies of women and children.
One of the four survivors of the massacre, Robie Martin of Riviera Beach, and descendants of other survivors are expected to attend the ceremonies, scheduled at noon Thursday.
Those attending will light candles and release balloons in memory of those killed. Letters and proclamations will be read from Gov. Jeb Bush, U.S. Sen. Bob Graham and Attorney General Charlie Crist.
"We did not ask for an apology," said Jenkins, who lives in Archer. "We are not going to accuse or blame somebody. It's history and it deserves its place in history."
A historical marker will be placed on the roadside early next year near the John Wright House, the only landmark still in Rosewood, Jenkins said. Wright was a store merchant in whose house survivors hid until they could escape by train.
In 1993, the Florida Legislature approved a bill giving the survivors and descendants $2.1 million. Also, a scholarship was created at Florida A&M University to study racial injustice.
Jenkins said the ceremony will consecrate the grounds of the former community, which was the subject of a 1997 John Singleton movie, "Rosewood."
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