Racial violence erupted in the small and quiet Rosewood community January 1-7, 1923. Rosewood, a predominantly colored community, was home to the Bradley, Carrier, Carter, Goins, and Hall families, among others. Residents supported a school taught by Mahulda "Gussie" Brown Carrier, three churches, and a Masonic lodge. Many of them owned their homes, some were business owners, and others worked in nearby Sumner and at the Cummer Lumber Mill. This quiet life came to an end on January 1, 1923, when a white Sumner woman accused a black man of assaulting her. In the search for her alleged attacker, whites terrorized and killed Rosewood residents. In the days of fear and violence that followed, many Rosewood citizens sought refuge in the nearby woods. White merchant John M. Wright and other courageous whites sheltered some of the fleeing men, women and children. Whites burned Rosewood and looted livestock and property; two were killed while attacking a home. Five blacks also lost their lives: Sam Carter, who was tortured for information and shot to death on January 1; Sarah Carrier; Lexie Gordon; James Carrier; and Mingo Williams. Those who survived were forever scarred.
Haunted by what had happened, Rosewood residents took a vow of silence, lived in fear and never returned to claim their property. That silence was broken seventy-one years later. In 1994 survivors, including Minnie Lee Langley, Arnett Turner Goins, and Wilson Hall, filed a claims bill in the Florida Legislature. A Special Master, an expert appointed by the Speaker of the House, ruled that the state had a "moral obligation" to compensate survivors for the loss of property, violation of constitutional rights, and mental anguish. On May 4, 1994, Governor Lawton Chiles signed a $2.1 million compensation bill. Nine survivors received $150,000 each for mental anguish, and a state university scholarship fund was established for the families of Rosewood and their descendants. A fund was also established to compensate those Rosewood families who could demonstrate property loss.