“Good, bad, ugly, different, it is history”: Rosewood historian reflects on 100 year anniversary of town’s massacre
ARCHER, Fla. (WCJB) -It was a dark seven days at the start of 1923 for the black families of Rosewood depicted in the 1997 film by John Singleton. An angry mob of white men nearly wiped the Levy County town off the map.
“You did not create Rosewood but it’s a history story that must be told,” said Lizzie Robinson Jenkins, a Rosewood historian.
From the 1st until the 7th of January 1923, at least eight people were killed in Rosewood. For the past 100 years, the story has been told from one generation to the next from the eight families who survived the massacre.
“Had it not been for my mother and her story and her truth, people would not be celebrating the centennial,” said Jenkins. “It’s her work, it’s her legacy. It’s who she is.”
Jenkins dedicated her life to the Rosewood story by uncovering untold truths, honoring the lives of the victims and making sure Florida leaders recognize this dark chapter. Her aunt was a teacher who fled on January 4th.
“It’s a history. History is who we are. Without history, we are nothing,” said Jenkins. “Good, bad, ugly, different, it is history.”
Although, its a history that hasn’t always been told. The news magazine, 60 minutes finally told the story in 1983. Since then, Jenkins brought the memories to life and a centennial commemoration hosted by her non-profit, ‘The Real Rosewood Foundation’, is set for Saturday.
A wreath laying ceremony, docu-drama and movie screening, plus an awards gala and panel discussion are happening throughout the month by similar Rosewood groups. A century later, these groups turn the Rosewood tragedy into a teachable lesson.
“It shouldn’t be that way and I want them to think about when they leave the centennial, I want them to say now what can I do as a person to help with democracy? To help change the face of hatefulness, racism? It’s not necessary and do what we need to do as a world, as human beings,” said Jenkins.
Its a question that’s been asked for decades. The responsibility that Jenkins and few others handle to tell the Rosewood story falls heavy on their shoulders.
“So I have been there done that, if I had to do it all over again, I would.”
It’s a burden that’s worth it to Jenkins, and she will tell kids reflecting on Rosewood’s tragic past builds a path for a brighter future.
“It’s not Rosewood’s history, it’s America’s history.”
WATCH PARTS ONE AND TWO:
“It’s a history story that must be told,” Rosewood descendant reflects on Centennial anniversary of town’s massacre (Part 1 of 3)
The Real Rosewood Foundation fundraises to relocate & build Rosewood museum in Archer (Part 2 of 3)
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