An audience of about 85 gripped onto Lizzie Jenkins’ every word as she retold the history of Rosewood, Florida, a town where black residents were massacred in 1923.
The Matheson History Museum hosted Jenkins, an 80-year-old author and historian, to share research she has done on the Rosewood Massacre and tell her family’s personal accounts in celebration of Black History Month Thursday night.
In 1923, a white woman, Fannie Coleman Taylor, claimed that a black man assaulted her. Her husband, James Taylor, assembled a mob that included Ku Klux Klan members. The mob went to Rosewood, a predominantly black town, and killed townspeople.
Jenkins talked about her aunt, Mahulda Carrier, who was one of the survivors of the massacre. She said Carrier’s husband was beaten by the mob and was almost shot before Sheriff Elias “Bob” Walker put him in a Gainesville prison. She said the number of those killed is still unknown, but it could be more than 100.
Jenkins is also the founder of the Real Rosewood Foundation Inc., which focuses on education and preservation of the history of the Rosewood Massacre, she said.
The foundation sold prints, T-shirts and Jenkins’ book, “Alachua County, Florida” a part of the Black America Series, she said. All proceeds went toward the foundation’s effort to create a museum of Rosewood’s history.
“You would never know anything about anybody if you don’t talk,” Jenkins said on the importance of sharing history.
The museum staff hosted Jenkins for the first time and wanted to have her because of her accomplishments, said Peggy Macdonald, the museum’s executive director. She said having Jenkins was important so others could learn about local history.
Rose Sintulaire, a 21-year-old UF family, youth and community sciences senior, said she went to learn about black history in the Gainesville area because she didn’t know much about it.
“It gave me a bit more perspective on Gainesville and the events that happened to African Americans that were living in the area and their history,” she said. “It was very interesting to hear a live perspective. It made it more real.”