A year ago, I first visited Rosewood, Florida, the site of a horrific racist massacre in 1923. Someone imagined a black man raped a white girl, and it exploded from there. I found the paltry memorialization of this American tragedy to be disquieting. I wrote about my first visit to Rosewood on this blog (click here to read that post, see the pictures, and read the depressingly politicized plaque).
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to return. Rosewood is in Levy County, where Florida State Road 24 meets County Road 324, a few miles east of Cedar Key on the Gulf of Mexico. This place once buzzed as a miller of cedar for Faber pencils. Now it’s quiet.
My first trip there was too unsatisfying, bereft of the vibration that turmoil usually leaves. I left without a sense of the gravity of what had happened there. If I hadn’t known beforehand, I never would have realized that this dusty, overgrown, fire-prone patch of coastal Florida land had hosted any event of note, let alone one charged with such fury, terror, and bloodlust.
This time, I battled the seasonal swarm of lovebugs to shoot a little video of Rosewood so people can see it for themselves. It appears, on the face of it, to be a dreary, sun-baked little outpost of pickup trucks and scrubby trees. It seems like nothing special as long as you remain ignorant.
But of course, the woods most people zoom past once were once the setting for unimaginable savagery.