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Sundown & Silence
By Kristen Merlo, with comments by Harrison Lawrence, Jaeyong Shim, Sarah Ballan, and Patrick O'Brien

The token question on the first day of any history class is undoubtedly “Why study history?” Any relatively competent student will quickly learn that there is a succinct and successful answer to this expected question: “We must study history so that we do not repeat its mistakes.” Certainly there is an emphasis placed upon this idea of being doomed to repeat one’s history. An understanding of the past events and beliefs of our nation can certainly help one to recognize the patterns and offer explanations for many of the aspects of our society that superficially seem difficult to explain. For instance, racism and prejudice are not simple to explain; yet it is upon understanding the history of a nation that one will be able to...
The Intersection of Art, Commerce, and John Wayne in Rosewood
By Lynn Farley

Hollywood walks a cinematic tightrope when it attempts to make meaning of historical events. There’s a thin line between love and hate and fact and fiction. Negotiating the boundaries between these in the representation of past lives and creating a picture that resonates with the public usually falls on the shoulders of a film’s director. Whether or not the filmmaker is successful in completing this task is determined not only by critical accolades but perhaps the more important box office success. When director John Singleton chose to incorporate some fiction with Rosewood’s facts by introducing an imaginary title character á la John Wayne, the critics chewed him up for it: “For some reason, perhaps because Singleton and his...
The Portrayal of Economic Tension in Rosewood
By Jae Yong Shim

Rosewood, a film directed by John Singleton, is based on the true story of the Rosewood massacre, a racial disturbance that took place in Rosewood, Florida, in 1923. The brutal incident destroyed Rosewood, a black community, and killed many African Americans and two white men. Historians have examined such racial disturbances, including the one at Rosewood, and, attribute them to variety of factors, one being economic competition between the races. Singleton has said that “the racism in that incident had an economic basis. At the time, a lot of people migrated to the area -- whites, blacks, Hispanics. They were vying for employment in the lumber and turpentine business. You had a whole lot of economic tension" (Carr)...
Violence, Spectacle, and Cultural Erasure
By Cayla McNally

In John Singleton’s often overlooked Rosewood, a racial power struggle results in the decimation of an all-black town. What results from the massacre at Rosewood is an active erasure of an instance of black resistance within the larger narrative of anti-black violence at the hands of organized white supremacy. The erasure effectively undoes the work of past acts of resistance against the monolith of white hatred and creates a dishonest history in which black people are cast as acquiescing victims rather than as subtle resisters. Film critic Tracy Barone suggests that Rosewood tells three histories that have been marginalized by the national history of American exceptionalism:
The first is a story of black...