Is a scholarship enough to make up for the 1923 Rosewood massacre?

In a town haunted by racially motivated murder, Robert Samuels explores if reparations for the descendants can make up for the sins of the past

Saturday 23 May 2020 13:19
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Rosewood scholars (from left): Srinivasa, Carter and Spells don't like to talk about their shared history
Rosewood scholars (from left): Srinivasa, Carter and Spells don't like to talk about their shared history

Ever since Morgan Carter was a little girl, her grandmother would tell her a story. It was about an old mill town, deep in the backwoods of north Florida – a place where black people did well for themselves. The town was called Rosewood. That’s where Carter’s great-grandfather Oren Monroe was born.

In 1923, when Monroe was eight years old, an all-white mob burnt the town to the ground. They killed six people, maybe more. He escaped with a group of women and children on an unusually cold night, wading through a swamp before boarding a train that took them to a safer place. Carter was destined to be the story’s happy ending. Because of the pain Monroe’s community suffered, the Florida legislature passed a law in 1994 allowing descendants of Rosewood to go to college in the state tuition-free. The law is regarded as the first instance of a legislative body in the United States giving reparations to African Americans.

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