Allies in Rosewood, FL



Allies in Rosewood, FL



Rosewood was a striving, nearly all-black town near Florida’s Gulf Coast, which was destroyed by white vigilantes who attacked the black citizens of Rosewood in January 1923. The homes of all the black residents in Rosewood were destroyed, while the homes of two white families remained untouched. One of the families - John Wright and his wife, who operated a general store and had no children of their own protected black residents and their children from further violence and acted as liaisons to Black residents hiding in the swamps, providing them with food.

Seven-year-old Lee Ruth Davis managed to get the Wright store. She is quoted as saying -

"I was laying that deep in water, that is where we sat all day long. . . . We got down on our bellies and crawled. We tried to keep people from seeing us through the bushes . . . We were trying to get back to Mr. Wright's house. After we got all the way to his house, Mr. and Mrs. Wright were all the way out in the bushes hollering and calling us, and when we answered they were so glad."

Two white train conductors on the local railroad, brothers John and William Bryce, who had come to know all the residents of Rosewood over the years, brought the train to Rosewood to evacuate the women and children who were staying at the Wright house. Then they drove the train slowly up the tracks, blowing its horn as a signal to those who were hiding in the woods. The Bryces refused to stop for men, however, fearing that white gangs in the area might attack the train. The survivors of the riot who escaped on the train were taken in by Gainesville's African American community.

Davis recalled the kindness they survivors received in Gainesville -

“We pulled into the Gainesville Seaboard Station. It was jammed packed. You know, everyone was hollering and crying, and saying that they put us on the train. So many sheets covered with blood around them and everything. So people started saying I am going to take five or six. To take them to their homes and give them a place to stay. . . . Gainesville really looked out for us.”

Item sets

Site pages