Contextualizing the 1923 Violence at Rosewood

Rosewood did not exist in a vacuum, and its connection to local, regional, and national trends deeply impacted the community. We need to develop an awareness of this historical context to fully understand the importance of Rosewood. The period between 1915-1923 represents a particularly volatile moment in US history. WWI had just ended. Various forms of media stereotyped African Americans as deviant and dangerous (e.g., Birth of a Nation) and the eugenics movement reached its apex in 1924 when its leaders re-wrote US immigration policy (which survives in part today).

The country increasingly came under the influence of irrational, labor-hostile forms of global Capitalism which continue today. Understanding how these changing trends interacted at various scales provides a deeper analytical framework for understanding the riot in Rosewood. Ultimately, it was an intersection of various forms of violence which drove events like the destruction of Rosewood. To fully appreciate how these events echo across time and space, we need new explanations regarding racial violence.

Social scientists often view violence in terms of interpersonal, symbolic, and structural forms. The interpersonal form refers to face-to-face violence and is the most recognizable. Symbolic violence refers to cultural and social attitudes which contribute to negative stereotypes. Structural violence refers to the inequality disenfranchising minority communities. These interrelated types of violence were in flux during the early 20th century, when symbolic and structural forms began to surpass interpersonal forms as the dominate methods for halting minority advancement.

The research for this site is dedicated to investigating the intersection of various forms of violence in the past and present through a mixed methods approach. This project also seeks to develop a sensitive approach inviting descendants and community members to come together in the interest of calmly discussing issues of reconciliation in the present.

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