January 5th, 1923

Rosewood, Florida, Destroyed by Rioting White Mob

On January 1, 1923, in Sumner, Florida, Fannie Taylor, a sixteen-year-old married white woman, claimed she had been assaulted by Jesse Hunter, a black fugitive from a prison chain gang. There was no evidence against Hunter, but local white men launched a manhunt in Rosewood, a nearby town of about 200 black people. On January 2, a mob of white men kidnapped, tortured, and lynched Sam Carter, a black craftsman from Rosewood, on suspicion that he had helped Jesse Hunter escape.

White men continued to terrorize Rosewood searching for Hunter and black residents armed themselves in defense. Late on the night of January 4, a white posse fired into the home of black Rosewood resident Sylvester Carrier (whom they suspected of harboring Hunter) and killed an elderly woman. A gunfight between Carrier and the mob lasted into the early morning, killing people on both sides.

Outraged that blacks had fought back, the posse left the scene to regroup and returned with more men. On January 5, between two and three hundred white men attacked Rosewood, killing an estimated thirty to forty black men, women, and children on sight and burning the town to the ground. Black residents hid in the woods and fled by train to Gainesville, Florida, never to return. Survivors later recounted that Fannie Taylor had made false accusations against Jesse Hunter to conceal her extramarital affair with a white man.