TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – A painting on display at the Tampa International Airport is remembering the victims and survivors of a brutal, race-drive attack on a predominately African-American Florida town.
Pedro Jermaine is the artist on display at the TPA for Black History Month. He has five powerful pieces on the floor located between terminals A and C. When working on this project, Jermaine realized he wanted a piece that actually told Black history, so he created “Hope Prevails,” as a tribute to Rosewood, Florida.
“I would read certain magazine articles or certain news articles on Rosewood,” Jermaine said. “I actually went back and read stories about slavery because I don’t see this as anything different. I just see it as people trying to take torment and suffering, so you probably feel some of that in the painting by the way the residents are dressed as they try to flee the massacre.”
Rosewood, Florida was established in Levy County, Florida around 1855. According to the Rosewood Foundation, the city is believed to have taken it’s name from the many red cedar trees that grew in the area. However, when the cedar trees depleted in 1890, many of the white families occupying the city left. By 1900, Rosewood was filled with majority black citizens.
In 1923, a married white woman from Sumner, Florida made claims that a black man assaulted her, according to the Rosewood Foundation. After that claim, a group of whites attacked the predominately black town. In February, a grand jury was impaneled to investigate the massacre. The jurors ultimately said they couldn’t find evidence of the massacre and the black community of Rosewood never returned.
There aren’t any pictures or videos of this event, so Jermaine relied on history and stories from those impacted by the massacre to create his painting. Including Lizzie Jenkins’.
“That story has lived with me for the rest of my life,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins was five-years-old when her mother and aunt told her the story of Rosewood. Some of Jenkins’ family were brutally attacked and murdered during the massacre. However, she lives on to share their stories.
“It became our story for the rest of our lives, so I took the story with me to school every day, to college, to work and in 1982 when the story became nationally known, we talked about it even more,” Jenkins said.
The story of the Rosewood massacre often goes untold, so Jenkins plans to make sure it’s never forgotten.
“I want everybody else to know what happened, it’s for peace and healing,” Jenkins said. “I have discovered lots of personal family history, but the rosewood history is near and dear to my heart and still is dear to my heart. We need to know this story of history because we don’t want history to repeat itself.”
Jenkins founded the Real Rosewood Foundation. That’s how she continues to share the story of the Rosewood massacre. Click here for more information about the foundation and Jenkins’ efforts to preserve history.
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