The things my school system failed to teach me are beyond pathetic; I learned about the Tulsa massacre by watching The Watchmen. I literally made the statement “could you imagine if something like that actually happened?”
Google explained to me that it was reality- a reality I knew nothing about.
Once is crazy but something like that couldn’t happen twice (or even more times)- right?
Let’s go back to January of 1923- 100 years ago.
A little settlement named Rosewood was founded in 1847 and got its name from the reddish color of cut cedar- it was the home to two pencil mills. Initially, Rosewood had both black and white settlers but once most of the cedar trees in the area had been cut down and the pencil mills close- many of the white settlers moved on to another surrounding communities.
This left Rosewood with mostly black settlers, and it became known as a quiet, primarily black, self-sufficient whistle stop on the Seaboard Air Line Railway.
In those times, legal racial segregation required separate black and white public facilities and transportation and by 1920, Rosewood had three churches, a school, a turpentine mill, a sugarcane mill, a baseball team named the Rosewood Stars and two general stores. The village had about a dozen two-story wooden plant homes with other smaller homes as well. Rosewood was never incorporated as a town- it was a community.
The Rosewood Massacre, along with most racial influenced tragedies at this time, was started by accusations that a white woman had been assaulted by a black man, not a Rosewood resident but a drifter.
A mob of several hundred white men from surrounding towns hunted down black people, attacked Rosewood, and burned down almost every single structure. Racial hatred in the name of revenge and justice.
The “official” death toll is listed as eight (six blacks and two whites) but some survivors claimed that up to twenty-seven black residents were killed.
No one was ever arrested but.
In 1993, the Florida Legislature commissioned a report on the incident and compensated the survivors and their descendants for the damages which they had incurred because of the racial violence.
In 2004, the state designated the site of Rosewood as a Florida Heritage Landmark.
This seems to be a reoccurring situation throughout American history- which is one reason I continue to ask the question- “When was America great?” I still don’t have an answer for that.
Time and time again, mobs of white people used a random single accusation of an attack to destroy any thriving community set up by black people. Segregation was the law, yet when black communities started building- they were quickly destroyed.
If you pay attention to the news, you see that this type of situation is still going strong- 100 years later. Mobs of white people are fighting against teaching our kids reality- hoping to keep the same whitewashed curriculum that’s always been in place. The mobs are still destroying black communities and I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen stories of black men killed in the streets- at least 100 years ago they justified these attacks with something more than having a bag of Skittles.
Just yesterday it was announced that Florida will not allow a new AP course on African American studies to be offered in its high school because the course is not “historically accurate”- yet the courses that taught me that slave ships were basically party boats, and my ancestors weren’t slave owners but “job creators” were allowed?
We can NOT put our trust in the school systems for this type of information and we shouldn’t be finding out about these situations through comic books or random television shows- we need to teach our kids reality; we need to explain the reality as it was- not as we were forced to learn it.
This information is out there (for now) and we need to talk about ALL of the situations; we need to share it. We don’t stop learning about our history once we graduate. Just because these stories exist and are there, at our fingertips- it doesn’t mean that all of us have heard of them.
America was not great in 1923 and black lives didn’t matter- clearly.
It’s not just black lives that matter; it’s black stories.
Love, Peace and Sharkyness