The Descendants of Rosewood Foundation will honor the lost lives of the 1923 Rosewood Massacre with a wreath laying ceremony on Jan. 8.
The ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. along 123 State Road 24 in Rosewood and will feature Gainesville City Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Chestnut as the keynote speaker.
Other notable guests attending will include Florida International University professor and historian Dr. Marvin Dunn, Temple Beth Or Rabbi Robyn Fisher, former State Sen. Dr. Tony Hill, and Department of Defense Chaplin Elvin Lee Jr.
“Rosewood was one of the crowning points of my tenure in the legislature because we were able to get reparations, if you will, for people who had been not treated fairly,” said Chestnut in a phone interview. “So, I look forward to going down just to share my feelings and my thoughts with the community.”
The ceremony honors the legacy of the eight families impacted by the Rosewood Massacre of 1923 and the lives lost 100 years ago and explores what the next 100 years look like for Black America.
According to the Remembering Rosewood website, on Jan. 1, 1923, a married white woman claimed an unidentified black man attacked her. The woman’s husband and a group of white men invaded Rosewood in hopes of finding her alleged attacker.
The mob tortured and lynched Sam Carter and attempted to lynch Aaron Carter, who was left for dead.
Sarah Carrier, a prominent Rosewood resident, was gunned down on her doorstep. Her son, Sylvester Carrier, fought back, killing two white men before he was murdered too.
“Exaggerated reports of Sylvester Carrier’s self-defense panicked nearby white citizens, and the mob swelled with numbers from neighboring counties, including the Ku Klux Klan,” the website reported.
The following days were filled with terror and chaos with Rosewood residents seeking refuge in the nearby woods and swamps while white mobs hunted them and razed the town.
Women and children – men were not allowed – were evacuated to Gainesville with help from white Rosewood store owner John Wright. Many Rosewood survivors assumed new identities and never spoke of the incident.
In 1994, the Florida Legislature passed House Bill 591, which acknowledged the town’s destruction and lack of government investigations.
“Descendants of Rosewood were awarded $2.1 million, making them the only African Americans to receive reparations from a legislative body in America,” the website reported.
For the outdoor event, it is suggested that anyone attending the ceremony should prepare for the weather and any environmental conditions such as insects, wildlife, uneven terrain, wet grass, and dirt and wear casual attire and comfortable sneakers or boots to ensure safety.