A black community in Rosewood, Florida was destroyed by white vigilantes in January 1923.
The survivors of the Rosewood massacre received reparations in 1994.
Their descendants were able to attend university thanks to funding from the reparation program.
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When Breeana Larkins was a teenage girl growing up in South Florida, she learned a “life-changing” detail about her family tree. Her grandmother was a descendant of the Rosewood Massacre in 1923.
On New Years Day 1923, just two years after the Tulsa Race Massacre, white vigilantes targeted and destroyed Rosewood, a tight-knit majority black community in Levy County, Florida. The terrorist attack – which lasted for over a week – began after a 22-year-old white woman accused a black man of physically assaulting her in Sumner, Florida, according to a 1993 report. Black survivors fled to neighboring areas and did not return home.
“It’s nothing that was presented to me by my upbringing,” Larkins told Insider of the massacre. “It was taught by my family.”
Prior to the massacre, Rosewood was a robust town with well-educated residents who lived in two-story houses and owned land and residents were considered wealthy, Rosewood Heritage Foundation historian Sherry Dupree told Insider.
“They really were another Black Wall Street who disappeared because of their wealth,” said Dupree, referring to Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “That’s why they were taken out because these other people couldn’t stand to see black people living that way.”
‘A step in the right direction’
At the time of the massacre, the survivors were young and did not talk about it for 20 to 30 years “except in family situations of silence due to fear,” Dupree said. But in the 1980s, they got together for a family reunion in Florida. Then, in 1994, Florida lawmakers passed a bill granting reparations to survivors.
“The total amount of reparations was $ 2.1 million, and it was to be given to family members who left Rosewood during the Rosewood Massacre,” Dupree said. “They had to leave around the time of the Rosewood massacre.”
The repair package included an education fund for the descendants.
“To receive it, I remember we had to submit my grandmother’s death certificate to (1) prove that this is how we were linked,” Larkins said. “It definitely played a big financial role in my further education.”
Larkins used the money to cover part of his financial aid for college, she added.
According to Dupree, the survivors who received reparations were not able to make lavish trips with their money, but used it for “survival”, investing in health care, bills, their homes and members of the family. their family.
“They just didn’t have the chance to take advantage of it because most of them died in the next few years,” Dupree said.
In 1995, Willie Evans, one of the compensated survivors, told the Orlando Sentinel that he used his money to renovate his home. Years later, her great-great-niece, Keri Miller, was able to receive the Rosewood scholarship when she was a student at Florida A&M University, a historically black institution.
“While the repairs will never make what our family went through … I feel like it’s a step in the right direction,” Miller said.
Repairs as a “necessity”
Few groups in the history of the United States have received compensation. These include Americans of Japanese descent who were placed in internment camps during World War II, victims of Tuskegee’s syphilis experiment, and survivors of Rosewood.
Illinois town Evanston took major step in repairs when it announced plans to pay black residents $ 10 million – of which $ 400,000 is devoted to housing and mortgage assistance. In California, a task force was formed to study the impacts of slavery and “recommend appropriate remedies.” Last month, the three living survivors of the racial massacre in Tulsa continued their call for reparations 100 years after the historic event.
Larkins said the repairs were a “necessity”, especially after what his grandmother’s family went through.
“I think we can all look at history and see how black people and other people of color and indigenous people are included, how we were basically put in hell,” Larkins said.
“And I know some people say, well, that was the past, but the past really dictates the future,” she continued.
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