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Rosewood researcher speaks at Cedar Key

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By Mark Scohier

About 50 people attended an event hosted  by the Cedar Key Historical Society to hear Lizzie Jenkins, executive president of the Real Rosewood Foundation, talk about Rosewood, a town she’s spent much of the last 18 years researching.

The talk was held at at the Cedar Key Community Center last week Jenkins’ aunt, Mahulda “Gussie” Brown Carrier, was a teacher, who lived in the mostly black community. Her aunt was also one of the residents who escaped from the town after it had come under attack from angry whites from Sumner and the surrounding areas in January 1923. Five blacks were killed in the attack, as well as two white attackers. The town was burned to the ground.

The survivors like Carrier, made new lives in other parts of the state and mostly kept quiet about what happened. But Jenkins, from a young age, said she was aware of what happened. Her aunt came to live with her family after the attack and Jenkins, on occasion, said she would hear about Rosewood from her mother.

“I was five when my mom first told me the story.”

Jenkins, who is working on a new book about Rosewood, said she didn’t start doing her own research into Rosewood until after a movie about the attack came out in the mid- 1990s. Too many things were sensationalized in the movie, she said.

“And that’s a shame because it promotes division.”

“As Obama said the other night, ‘We need to talk to each other.’ ”

Jenkins took time to answer questions from the crowd and finished her talk with a song about Rosewood she wrote with her mother a few years ago.