Black Historian: I Was Called N-Word at the Site of the Racist Florida Massacre in 1923
Marvin Dunn, a professor emeritus at Florida International University and a black historian, intended to use his property in the northwest Florida town of Rosewood as an educational center where students could learn more on the history of the state. racial violence.
After an alleged racist attack earlier this week near land he co-owns, the professor says his plans are on hold.
“It pushes back the dream,” Dunn says new times.
On Tuesday, Dunn, who is 82, and his son, Doug Dunn, stood with a group on the road near his property in Rosewood, the site of a 1923 massacre of black residents at the hands of a white mob.
Dunn tells new times he and two men were discussing clearing his five acres when a neighbor drove up in a van and asked what they were doing and why Dunn’s car was parked on the nearby side of the road.
Dunn says after explaining the thoroughfare is a county road and the vehicle was legally parked, the neighbor became furious.
“He got mad. He started yelling at us and calling us niggers,” Dunn said. “Then he shoots at us with his truck at full speed and tries to hit us.”
My son Douglas (as a high school student) was nearly killed in Rosewood yesterday by a racist in a van because he parked on the male side of the road. The man was screaming about “niggers” as he assaulted my son with his truck. Doug stepped back at the right moment. pic.twitter.com/Z8ukyhxcqp
— Dr. Marvin Dunn (@MarvinDunn4) September 7, 2022
If Doug hadn’t backed up, Dunn said, the truck would have hit him.
Dunn called the Levy County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) to file a report on the incident, and a deputy came to take witness statements from his group. Achieved by new times on the phone Thursday, LCSO Lt. Scott Tummond said the deputy had not yet completed the incident report.
Shaken by the encounter, Dunn says he is reassessing his plans for a “Teach the Truth Tour” early next year to mark the centenary of the Rosewood Massacre.
With the sponsorship of the children’s confidence and the Miami Heat, Dunn had prepared to take 40 young college students and 20 adults on tour, which would involve an overnight excursion across Florida to examine the state’s history of racial violence.
Dunn envisioned the trip making multiple educational stops, including at the site of the Newberry Massacrewhere at least six black people were lynched just west of Gainesville in 1916.
The main event, however, was to be a session of reflection and prayer at Dunn’s property in Rosewood: a now vacant lot with a preserved section of train tracks that served as an escape route for the town’s black population such as that she was. driven out by a mob of white men from nearby towns.
Rosewood was ransacked and razed to the ground in January 1923. An all-white mob had formed around the town in response to claims by Fanny Taylor, a white woman from Sumner, that she had been assaulted in her home by a black man. The mob tore through Rosewood in search of the alleged perpetrator, leading to a gun battle at the home of Taylor’s black laundress, Sarah Carrier, which made headlines across the country.
For several days, the mob burned Rosewood and murdered its inhabitants. Florida Governor Cary Hardee later ordered an investigation into the attack, but an all-white grand jury found there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.
In 1994, Florida passed a $2.1 million compensation bill for survivors of the Rosewood Massacre and their descendants.
Dunn’s nonprofit, the Miami Center for Racial Justice, raised $50,000 for the “Teach the Truth Tour” and its planned excursion to Rosewood. But after Tuesday’s events, Dunn is uncertain about bringing children to his property.
“Now I don’t know if the parents will let the kids go. It jeopardized everything I expected,” he says.
The historian also had long-term plans to create a “house of peace” on the property as a place where racial disputes could be resolved in the spirit of reconciliation. But he says he no longer feels safe there on his own.
“Now I feel like I have to get up there with a gun or get out some video cameras. It’s all a lot of problems,” he says.
Dunn points out that Rosewood’s white community has never given him any trouble since he took possession of the property in 2008, and this is the first and only racist outburst he’s experienced in the area.
In addition to his work on documentaries and books on black history, Dunn is known for his long time post as a professor of psychology at CRF, where his research focused on race relations and education programs for at-risk students. A United States Navy veteran, Dunn co-founded the Academy for Community Education, a Miami-Dade County high school now known as the Dr. Marvin Dunn Academy for Community Education.