Dreams Of Black Wall Street: An Interview With Stephen Hanlon

In America, citizenship implies the ability to enjoy the full rights of freedom. This question of who belongs to American society, who is a real American citizen, has been a central problem since the time of the Revolution. Rosewood is but one example of the enormous cost African Americans have had to pay for pursuing the promise of full citizenship in America.

Those who terrorized Rosewood did so with impunity largely because Black people in America simply were not counted as full citizens. Their existence was one of second or third-class citizenship. This is why those who escaped the Rosewood Massacre and lived to talk about it rarely did. They understood that many members of the mobs who hunted Rosewood residents like animals during the first week of January in 1923 were alive and well in the years that followed. Some were even neighbors in communities some of the survivors had relocated to. And as second or third-class citizens – those who escaped the Massacre felt their survival depended upon their silence.

For nearly 60 years – Rosewood remained buried in the memories of those who escaped, witnessed, or caused the massacre until a journalist named Gary Moore who worked for the St. Petersburg Times, which is now the Tampa Bay Times, started looking into the Rosewood Massacre in early 1982. His investigative expose was published in the paper on July 25, 1982. Since then the story of Rosewood has been brought into clearer focus through hours upon hours of further investigations and research and media coverage. Eventually, a number of elderly Rosewood survivors decided that the time had come for them to seek justice in the form of a claims bill in the Florida Legislature that produced the nation’s only government compensation payments to Lynching Era victims.

In this episode, listeners will hear from journalist and author, Michael D’Orso, who is the author of “Like Judgement Day:” a detailed account of the Rosewood Massacre as well as the lives of the survivors in the decades that followed and their years-long fight for justice and compensation. Guests on this episode also include Gregory Black, Director of the Rosewood Heritage Foundation; Stephen Hanlon, lead attorney in the Rosewood claims bill and St. Louis University School of Law Professor; and the University of Florida Professor, Dr. Maxine Jones, who worked as principal investigator for the Rosewood Academic Study.

Listen to the entire podcast here.