S2 E6 Perry, FL: One Month Before the Rosewood Massacre
Updated: Dec 2, 2021
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Throughout much of the 20th century, Florida had been a Ku Klux Klan stronghold. Klansmen found friends in government who occupied offices on local, state and federal offices. By 1925 the Klan had about 3 million members nationwide. Three years later, their ranks began to shrink. In Florida, however, the Klan grew. Their strongest factions could be found in Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando. Members of the Ku Klux Klan were often responsible for lynchings. From 1900 to 1930, Florida had the highest ratio of lynchings per capita (per capita being the average per person). Some scholars believe that, "Black men were more at risk of being lynched in Florida than any other state” and viewed Florida as a lynching capital. Lynching was not only a tool of terror and control - but also a response to the changing landscape of the country. Such was the case in a community not far from Rosewood called Perry Florida, where an attack eerily similar in nature took place just one month before the community of Rosewood perished at the hands of a mob similar to those who terrorized Perry. The attack could be viewed as a foreshadowing of what was to come at the start of the New Year in 1923. However, as Florida State University Professor, Meghan Martinez explains, such incidents were unfortunately much more common and than most people understand. They had become woven into the daily realities of Black Americans and minorities in Florida in the early 1900’s. 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.
“Most lynchings in America per capita are in Florida. Not hard numbers wise but per capita we have the most in Florida. And I think that speaks to a number of things. A lot of this violence begins in the 1920's. It culminates in 1923 with Rosewood but a lot of it begins in 1920. Well that's the first election we have where Black women are allowed to vote...supposedly they're supposed to be allowed to vote." ~Florida State University Professor Meghan Martinez.
“Talking about systemic racism is not personal. It just is. Talking about the way racism is systemic just means, look the country was built this way. It preferences white people, it gives opportunities to white people. Non white people have been more vulnerable in our country's history. A white person listening to that should not take that personally. But what they should understand is that systemic racism is real." ~Florida State University Professor Meghan Martinez.