File:Rosewood Florida rc12408.jpg

The next time some jackass contends that the American Civil War had nothing to do with slavery; show him this:

More to the point, Confederate Vice President Stephens plainly asserted in March 1861 that the “present revolution,” which had brought about the creation of the Confederate States of America, “is founded … on the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

I vacillate from wishing to see a good and an evil to every situation; and from wishing to remain an observer.

As an observer, I can better discover what is and what is not. You cannot ‘fix’ anything until you arrive at some conception as to the status of something.

Journalists rarely can achieve the position of the observer in this day and age; at least those on MSM.

Woodward always feigns to be this ideal reporter, above the fray. But when he does a trilogy of the Bush Administration you will notice that the first book makes the administration look pretty good and that is only because Bush was riding high in the polls following the events of 9/11/01.

Then, as the polling organizations reported lower figures for the President, the second book makes the administration look less and less competent.

His final book disses the hell out of the Administration, causing Cheney to slam the phone down on Bob. Coincidently, the polls were very low for Bush when the third book was published.

Cultural and Social Anthropology demands the observer remain neutral so that some measure of truth may be arrived at with regard to a community’s status. How does this culture work? That is the question rather than continually pointing out how screwed up the people of concern actually are.

This is really where the concept of cultural relativity arose in the first place.

The reporter/social scientist is not supposed to grasp cultural relativity as a religious concept. Rather that perspective is supposed to be a tool to find truth.

Thus, an analysis of the German People leading up to and during the Reich would be of great import in understanding how millions of minorities could be literally branded and exiled and subsequently taken to death camps.

Similarly, it is useful to grasp the status, the culture of the Old South in order to understand how millions of people could be held in bondage for so long. How did the dominant race rationalize this predicament and how did the subservient race remain subservient with so few rebellions.

Following the end of de jure slavery, cultural changes took place.

But there were certain rules to the new status between the races that developed over time.

The first rule of course was that you were considered a Negro even if your ancestors were ¾ or 7/8 white. The Germans had similar views concerning the definition of Jewish heredity but the intelligentsia used pseudo science to put exact formulae in place for making such a determination.

The relevance of all these matters came into play for me as I viewed the movie Rosewood.

Rosewood presents a plot concerned with matters that took place in January of 1923 in Levy County, on the East Florida Coast.

What struck me about this film were the geographic nuances in this country in terms of race.

Rosewood was considered a ‘Colored town’. But it was not 100% Black in terms of residency.

Then there were White towns in the area, but they were not 100% White Towns.

There were Jim Crow Laws to be sure, fully in force at the time of these terrible events.

But again, I was more interested in the interrelationships between the races in this film rather than the technical laws in place at the time.

Rosewood was on a train line (which is how towns arose in this country and elsewhere) and it had been a mining town. The railroad was more than happy to make money from Colored Towns as well as White Towns.

So there were Black folks and White folks who owned property in this area of East Florida and who owned businesses and who were not doing too badly.

One of the first scenes in the movie involves an auction for the sale of land in or around Rosewood.

Now one of the White merchants (played by Jon Voight) is bidding on the land and has a fixed sum in his head prior to attending the auction, thinking there will not be that many bids. But a Black Man (played by Ving Rhames), returning from a stint in the army starts bidding much to the chagrin of the White guy.

And the entire auction is government directed so the Whites are running the entire show.

But money is involved. And the Whites really do not know how to handle this problem involving a Black man with money bidding on property. And of course, the town is primarily ‘Colored’ anyway which further complicates this situation.

Voight is pissed off and demands to see the ‘colored’s money’. Rhames stays cool and as the other Blacks do throughout the film, always answers questions courteously and with eyes pointed at the floor.

There is something about eye contact that is important to the relationship between the races.

And Voight is really caught in a pickle. I mean he makes more money from the Blacks than the Whites and would not be in business if it were not for this Black community.

Still Voight mumbles about the idiocy of a government that will fully arm Black folks to sit in trenches and kill white folks. Hahaha And he is mad that this lowly Black man comes home with money.

See the Whites are making money through Black commerce and the Whites do not like this fact but they like making money from the Black commerce.

What makes this a good film is that there are good Whites and evil Whites. But the good Whites are not that ‘good’ and the evil Whites are not necessarily that ‘evil’ although there are a couple of really evil Whites portrayed in this film.

If you read the Wiki rendition of the Rosewood riots, you will see that the movie is attacked by some for including facts not in evidence and for mis-portraying other events. But these attacks in my humble opinion come from the Old South.

I was struck with the balance of Blacks and Whites, of Black communities and White communities working in this symbiotic relationship. You would think that this type of commerce would not work.

In January of 1923, a white woman claimed to have been beaten (and maybe raped) by a Black man.

The worst whites, led by on of the local sheriffs, go on a rampage and before too much time has elapsed the entire town of Rosewood is burned down. Buildings owned and operated by Blacks as well as by Whites are decimated.

Wiki uses as sources for its presentation old newspaper articles from all over the country, north and south. The problem was that this destruction of an entire town is covered up by the county and state governments.


Somewhere between four and thirty people were murdered. The film shows a mass grave filled with the bodies of men, women and children.

And no charges were brought against any white folks.

In the movie, with the help of the Voight character, women and children are saved by the railroad and transported to other parts.

I wish to read more about this massacre in the future.

There was a civil action brought by the children and grandchildren of the former residents of Rosewood in the 1990’s. This action must have been one hell of an undertaking but documentation was made through court and county records (relating to real estate ownership) and the newspapers of the time.

Besides money damages, the court action forced Florida to recognize this massacre for the first time.

An entire town was destroyed and there was no record of its destruction.

I was just taken by the fact that this entire matter presented a social system that was precarious indeed. But both races co-existed and the co-existence appeared to be based on commerce.

It was imperfect to be sure, but appeared to be working.

And one woman bearing false witness ignited a firestorm that destroyed the entire system in a flash.


5 thoughts on “ROSEWOOD

  1. This is so cool Dick. In the instances you refer, the common thread is truth eventually raises it’s ugly head and reveals the lie. This after the fact revelation invariably is a tragic circumstance of our lives.

    Our common mode of social interaction is one of wanting to trust. This is a most unfortunate condition. It isn’t enough for us to be observers. We have to be critical observers and objective observers.

    While it is impolite to interrupt persons as they are spinning their tale, the objective observer has no choice but to do so. The moment a logical inconsistency or a falsehod is used in a presentation the presentation MUST be interrupted and MUST come to a full stop. Ignoring the infraction implies an acceptance of it and of any premise or conclusion it derives. Further, it implies a very certain disrespect for the listener. The social interaction, at the very point of the infraction, is void.

    The idea that we are required to aquiesce to being politely lied to is a load of manure. The skilled practitioner can thrust a precisely honed instrument and disembowel us without our ever knowing it until our guts have spilled all over the floor. This is what awaits the unwary.

  2. Right now, what we have is a framework of lies which have been constructed which must be disassembled and reconstructed with the truth. Until this happens we, this country, is in for a bad time of it. Slavery was an instance of such a framework and much of what we have witnessed over the past three decades is another.

    We carry the social scars of this and will do so forever until we understand inequality bred of a false assertion can’t stand the test of time. It will fail by virtue of it’s decrepit foundation.

      1. The scars may not go away but we can heal them. But not in the presence of the deniers of the truth.

        I can’t believe listening on MSNBC all day since the new congress took over the unbelieveable lies being uttered all day long. The meme viewers are having to listen to is amazing.

        Naturally, the new players are the ones being interviewed is why this is. The change in the slant of the reporting just smacks you square in the face. And the idiot reporters and hosts accept it.

        1. Great comments from you on this post, TPC, one right after another. I agree with you wholeheartedly on all of them. I think we need more Jon Stewarts in this country. More “Media Matters” websites. More of the truth.

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