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Anonymous. " ‘Rosewood' tells story of how White mob destroyed a Black town in 1923." Jet 24 March 1997: 56.
Provides a plot synopsis, along with a useful image gallery, and, most importantly, the words of director John Singleton: "Rosewood seemed like a ripe subject to paint a very provocative portrait of the America people rarely want to talk about." In addition to commentary from Singleton, the article presents quotations from actors Esther Rolle and Don Cheadle, who offer their own personal views on the historic Rosewood Massacre.
Arsenault, Raymond. "Rosewood." Rev. of Rosewood, dir. John Singleton. Journal of American History 84.3 (1997): 1173-74.
Although he applauds Singleton for an aesthetically pleasing rendition of Rosewood in the early twentieth century, Arsenault critiques the director for demonstrating a "lack of respect for the historical record." Specifically, Arsenault sees the film as sensationalized, a "cartoon-like fantasy." A fictional character ultimately saves the day, and the final hour of the film seems to be purely for Hollywood purposes. Most poignantly, Arsenault explains such "romantic mythmaking" as "detrimental to the cause of racial justice and interracial understanding." At the end of his review, Arsenault concludes that Singleton has ultimately failed in the production of a film that does the Rosewood Massacres and the survivors justice.
Barlowe, Jamie. "The ‘Not-Free' and ‘Not-Me': Constructions of Whiteness in ‘Rosewood' and ‘Ghosts of Mississippi.'" Canadian Review of American Studies 28.3 (1998): 31-47.
Barlowe considers these two racially-oriented films, seeking to examine "how these cinematic representations connect with sociohistorical and personal accounts of the events, as well as how such representations impact on the present, particularly in the films' constructions of whiteness as a ritualised category" (31). She explains how the privilege of whiteness is a power that is often denied or ignored and questions the impact of recognition of whiteness versus blackness throughout history. Specifically, she offers an interesting critique of Rosewood when she comments on the "object of the camera's gaze" (39). Barlowe juxtaposes Rosewood against mainstream Hollywood films by noting that Rosewood gives perspective to the black characters.
Carr, Jay. "John Singleton Searches for Justice in Rosewood." John Singleton: Interviews. Ed. Craigh Barboza. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2009. 94-97.
"In the film, most of characters are recreated historical figures but Mann. Mann is a fictional hero that rescues surviving victims. Singleton explains the reason to put a fictional hero. 'One difficulty,' Singleton says, 'arose from a need to find something positive in the black response. This led to recreations of historical characters being augmented by an invented figure played by Ving Rhames . . . who had discharge bonuses in their pockets and a newfound pride that led them to stand up to racism.'"
Cottrol, Robert J., and Raymond T. Diamond. "Rosewood." American Historical Review 103.2 (1998): 635-36.
Cottrol and Diamond praise director John Singleton for his "valuable effort" in Rosewood, which is a film of many layers. The film is tripartite: a story of black achievement, a story of "bestial racial violence," and "the most undertold" story of back resistance. After acknowledging that it is Mr. Mann, a fictional character, who weaves these stories together, the authors suggest that Rosewood be supplemented by a viewing of The Rosewood Massacre: The Untold Story (Discovery Channel). Although Singleton effectively captures the horror of lynch fever, the authors commend him for refusing to portray all white men as racist and violent. Singleton's characters are dynamic and multidimensional as they tell "more than a simple story of racial violence in one small town." Rather, they write, [Rosewood] "represents an era when the law's failure and white envy combined to make black life precarious."
Dauphin, Gary. "Ashes and Embers." John Singleton: Interviews. Ed. Craigh Barboza. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2009. 79-86.
Singleton: "What really sparked my interest in this project . . . was meeting the survivors of this incident. They were all in their seventies and early eighties, people like Minnie Lee Langley and Wilson Hall and Arnett Goins, and I stayed there and interviewed them about their experiences as children being chased in the swamps right after New Years. It was so horrifying, I just felt it was a story that really needed to be told."
Flores, Richard R. "Memory-Place, Meaning, and The Alamo." American Literary History 10.3 (1998): 428–45.
Flores's meditation on the Alamo as "memory-place" might resonate strangely with Rosewood, which isn't "there" any more. See Davidson and Gonzalez-Tennant in the online resources section.
Flowers, Charles. "Is Singleton's Movie a Scandal Or A Black ‘Schindler's List'?" Seminole Tribune March 1997.
This article offers insight into the criticism Rosewood survivors have regarding Singleton's 1997 film. Opening with the strong statement, "Anyone desiring to have history told in a feature film in 1997 better check his facts at the door," Flowers presents the argument of survivors such as Robie Mortin and Wilson Hall that Singleton's film did not do justice to the Rosewood Massacre. The article extensively quotes these two survivors, along with book author Michael D'Orso and director John Singleton. Furthermore, it brings up several "mysteries" regarding the historical and filmic account of Rosewood. Flowers offers contrasting views to much of the other literature.
Halton, Beau. " ‘No resentment,' Rosewood survivors say." Florida Times-Union 20 Oct. 1997.
Halton offers a somewhat startling view of the Rosewood Massacre. Quoted at a Rosewood survivors' reception, Mary Hall Daniels states that she holds no bitterness – "I have no resentment; God does things for a reason." This article offers the remarkably peaceful viewpoint of many Rosewood survivors, who expressed the feelings that, "if they allowed themselves to be bitter, to hate, it would have eaten them up." Halton explains the reparations in 1994 via the Florida Legislature's Rosewood Claims Bill and shares the words of the lawyers who were involved in the reparations case. This article provides a surprising retrospective view.
Holmes, David G. "Cross-Racial Voicing: Carl Van Vechten's Imagination and the Search for an African American Ethos." College English 68:3 (2006), 291-307.
The article addresses the work of white writers who take on black voices, namely Carl Van Vechten, whose 1926 novel Nigger Heaven created controversy in literary circles. Holmes suggests that what occurs in these interactions is "a rhetorical gesture that can be partly described with the metaphor of cross-dressing." The main question that presents itself is whether white authors representing black voices can expose black stories to a larger audience or whether the representation actually robs black artists of their creative agency and reinforces stereotypes. Holmes then goes on to apply this question to modern classrooms, asking how white professors and teachers can present "cross-racial voicing" in a way that isn't reductive or essentializing.
Levin, Jordan. "Dredging in the Deep South." John Singleton: Interviews. Ed. Craigh Barboza. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2009. 87-93.
"Tracey Barone, the film's executive producer and president of Peters Entertainment, thinks that [meeting with the survivors] had a profound effect on Singleton. 'When you hear these people and witness what they go through emotionally in order to recreate the story, it's a very powerful experience,' she says by phone from Los Angeles. 'I think that cemented something in him that was greater than just the telling of this movie. It was a commitment to these people.'"
Lipkin, Steve. "When victims speak (or, what happened when Spielberg added ‘Amistad' to his list?"). Journal of Film and Video 52.4 (2001): 15-32.
Lipkin relies heavily on the works of film scholar Bill Nichols, who examines the "issues raised by comparing dramatic and documentary representation in film" (16). Nichols has a very pessimistic view regarding representational accounts of facts; however, Lipkin argues that docudramas (such as Rosewood and Amistad) have more leeway in presenting their stories, because "their modes of presentation and the conditions of their reception emphasize their status as works of narrative fiction" (18). Lipkin then goes on to discuss how the legal trials in Amistad and Mississippi Burning serve to give agency to the victims of the wrongdoings yet simultaneously transfer the audience's attention to the white protagonists. The views presented in the article cause one to question how the narrative aspects of Rosewood -- especially the character of Mann -- affect the facts surrounding the massacre.
Newman, Richard. "Rosewood Revisited." Transition 80 (1998): 32-39.
Newman offers a personal, reflective account of a visit to deserted Rosewood, Florida, in 1998. He beautifully describes the desolation and "blandness" of the area, sharing such initial thoughts with readers as "The first thing to say is that there is no Rosewood" (32). As a white journalist entering "unreconstructed Klan country," Newman finds himself very uneasy with the situation and expresses the sense of security that he gains from his two black escorts. The article offers a quick synopsis of the events at Rosewood, but its value is really in the photos and emotional writing of Newman. This source is not especially historically beneficial but offers a personal, interpretive touch to the Rosewood story.
Rollins, Peter C. The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past. New York: Columbia UP, 2003. 214-16.
Offering an analysis of Hollywood's portrayal of the past, Rollins divides his book into sections based upon topics such as era, wars, notable people, groups, and themes in American History that are examined in the movies. In the section titled "African Americans After World War II," Rollins briefly mentions Rosewood, as he offers it as an example of post-World War II Hollywood portraying the African American. He notes that "In the past several decades Hollywood has produced a fair number of films dealing with racial themes and intended for a mass (white as well as black) audience. It may be significant, however, that a number of these movies are period pictures – thus avoiding a direct discussion of the state of current race relations in the United States" (214). He offers comparison films, as well as a brief commentary on the roles of white versus black directors in this genre of film. Though it does not provide specific information about Rosewood, Rollins' book is useful for its introduction and an overall understanding of the role that Hollywood has played in our construction of national memory. It is perhaps the key reference work for "Reel American history."
Schumacher, Aileen. Rosewood's Ashes. Toronto: Worldwide, 2002.
"A fictional murder mystery that ties into the state investigation of the massacre at Rosewood and explores the injustice."
Streich, Gregory W. "Is There a Right to Forget? Historical Injustices, Race, Memory and Identity." New Political Science 24.4 (2002): 525–42.
Streich critically evaluates Jason Hill's concept of the "right to forget," which posits that in order for an individual to undo the constrictions of identity, one must forget the histories and memories associated with the identity. Streitch rejects this idea of forgetting, insisting that, "While identities must be de-essentialized, they cannot be de-historicized" (533), meaning that to forget the history of an identity group is to implicitly absolve any aggressors/oppressors of guilt and responsibility. Streich examines the dialogue surrounding apologies and reparations for past crimes -- most notably slavery -- and then insists that identity must be constructed free from cultural essentialism but within the frame of historical memory.
Weinraub, Bernard. "Stirring Up Old Terrors Unforgotten." John Singleton: Interviews. Ed. Craigh Barboza. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2009. 98-101.
"[Singleton] said that the depiction of blacks in films remained troubling, and that some of the fault rested with black filmmakers. 'It's commerce, everything is commerce,' he said. 'I mean there are black filmmakers trying to get paid just like white filmmakers. And not everybody comes to the table in a certain way in which they feel they have a responsibility to do anything except make a profit.'"

See Also

McKay, Kathleen C. Hearts of Rosewood: A Novel. Greensboro: Tudor Publishers, 1997.

Toplin, Robert Brent. "In Defense of the Filmmakers." Lights, Camera, History: Portraying the Past in Film. Ed. Richard Francaviglia and Jerry Rodnitzky. College Station: Texas A&M UP, 2007.

Video/Audio Resources

Bradley, Ed. The Rosewood Massacre. New York, NY: CBS Video, 1994.
The segment from the 60 Minutes television show that introduced the Rosewood story to the nation.
"Rosewood 1997." YouTube Video.
This is a link to the movie trailer. It highlights some of the most important scenes of the film, and is narrated mostly by Don Cheadle, who recites many key passages in the screenplay. The trailer gives viewers a slight glimpse of the violence of the film and makes it quite clear that this film presents issues of black and white.
Rosewood Massacre: The Untold Story. Gary Moore, Jack Smith, and David Tereshchuk. New York: ABC News Productions, 1996.
"This documentary includes interviews with survivors and eyewitnesses of the January 1923 massacre in Rosewood, Florida."
"Rosewood Reborn [1923 and after]." Listening Between the Lines.
A radio documentary with James Earl Jones and the survivors of Rosewood. The entire documentary is available for purchase through the website, but there are also sound clips of various segments of the documentary that are free to listen to. The documentary is composed of two parts: "7 Days of Ruin" and "Decades to Rebirth." It offers a comprehensive audio overview of the Rosewood Massacre through the voices of the Rosewood survivors themselves.

Online Resources

Davidson, James, M., and Edward Gonzalez-Tennant. "A Potential Archaeology of Rosewood, Florida: The Process of Remembering a Community and a Tragedy." SAA Archaeological Record January 2008: 13-16.
Rosewood is a "memory place." "What also made Rosewood different from many past acts is that the community fought back, and the price for such audacity was the total destruction of the town." Rosewood may function like the Alamo, "but in the opposite direction; once a place of black pride, viciously and senselessly attacked and destroyed, all but forgotten for decades, now is remembered and revered as a symbol for all the Rosewoods in the past, present, and future." But is there a right to forget? "The almost exclusively white population of Levy County . . .largely does not want to remember." Rosewood may function as "the simple act of remembering in the face of overwhelming and deliberate forgetting."
Palmer, R. Barton. "John Singleton." Film Reference.
This website provides basic biographical information for director John Singleton. After listing the films that he has directed and articles that he has published, Palmer offers a brief synopsis of Singleton's early life and early works. Palmer uses the term "blaxploitation" to explain film trends in the 1970's and then again in the early 1990's. These films were characterized by an "anti-establishment celebration of African-American ghetto culture … they sometimes glorified the drug dealing, organized crime, and sexual promiscuity they ostensibly condemned, thereby providing a weak critique at best of a dysfunctional culture in the process of being destroyed by middle-class flight, decaying municipal infrastructures, and systemic racism" (Palmer). The article acknowledges Boyz in the Hood (1991) as Singleton's ultimate success and then criticizes him for his later films – such as Rosewood (1997) and Poetic Justice (1993).
Remembering Rosewood
This website is an indispensable source in studying Rosewood. It has a link to "A Documented History of the Massacre which occurred at Rosewood, Florida, in January 1923," which is the research presented to the State of Florida in 1994. Also, it provides a useful timeline and survivor accounts. Furthermore, this website has links to more exhibits and information regarding taking guided tours of Rosewood.
"Rosewood Massacre." History Through Film.
A site for history teachers. Presents a brief synopsis of the historical event. The research presented here is mostly from Wikipedia, although the file does include a bibliography worth looking at. History Through Film recognizes the impact that Hollywood can have upon our understanding of American history, and the site seeks to provide factual, historical information to supplement a viewing of Rosewood.