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  • Writer's pictureNia Clark

S2 E2: Road to Rosewood



The predominantly African American Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was not the only so-called Black Wall Street in the early part of the 20th century.   There were a number of thriving Black communities in the early 1900’s. Some were also known by the moniker, Black Wall Street. These were communities that were very much made up of working people, which some say resembled middle-class prosperity. Some of America’s firs Black millionaires called these communities home. Though it was not uncommon to find Black Americans of different classes or income levels living in these communities together.  Nevertheless, creating such communities was no small feat for African Americans of this time. Segregation, Jim Crow, racism and corruption made it next too impossible for many black Americans to pull themselves out of poverty. Not to mention slavery was only abolished several decades prior. These communities began to take shape as the Black Americans became more politically engaged and economically mobile as a result of Reconstruction. However, an aggressive and often violent backlash to the improvement of the conditions of African Americans began to take hold in parts of the country, particularly the South. Unfortunately, wealthy, well-off, financially advantaged African Americans during this time often had targets on their backs. And because of that, many of these thriving black communities were destroyed and many people in them were killed.

One of these communities includes the once-primarily Black, self-sufficient town of Rosewood Florida. What happened in Rosewood was a symptom of larger trends happening across the country, including but not limited to: the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan; a systemic effort to undo the gains Black people made as a result of Reconstruction through policy, discrimination and other aggressive measures; a rise in lynchings and massacres of Black communities; backlash against Black veterans who had recently returned from World War 1; the formation and growth of Black resistance to power structures; and efforts of Black Americans to assert their voting rights, the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

Guests in this episode include Dr. Nashid Madyun who is the director of the Meek-Eaton Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and Museum on FAMU’s campus. Madyun is also a distinguished publisher and researcher. Listeners will also hear recordings of a talk given by Dr. Paul Ortiz. Professor Ortiz is the director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida. He is also the author of a number of books, including Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920. Professor Ortiz teaches undergraduate courses and supervises graduate fields. 

“All of the universities that had influence either by the land grants from the United States or the American Missionary Association, AMA, they saw that the pathway to economic independence was education. W.E.B Dubois. Couple that with the fact that Booker T. Washington also had a stronghold on the understanding of resistance. Resistance by economic independence. By using your hands...knowing how to til land, your own land and understanding how the money works around that is very threatening." ~Director of the Meek-Eaton Southeastern Regional Black ArchivesResearch Center and Museum on FAMU’s campus, Dr. Nashid Madyun.

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Musical attributions 

1. Artist/Title: Axletree - Window Sparrows Licenses: Attribution 4.0 International URL: 

2 Artist/Title: Lobo Loco - Place on my Bonfire (ID 1170) Licenses: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) URL: 

3. Artist/Title: Youssoupha Sidibe - Xaleyi Licenses: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US) URL:  

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