Abandoned Rosewood Black Cemetery

With the pro bono support of Holland & Knight, one of the most prestigious law firms in Florida, the Miami Center for Racial Justice has been involved in the efforts in Florida to find and preserve abandoned cemeteries most of which are believed to be black cemeteries. The firm assisted the Center in the preparation and presentation of recommendations on the subject to a committee of the Florida House of Representatives. On the behalf of the Center Dr. Marvin Dunn presented the recommendations at the committee’s public meeting in Tampa on September 2, 2021.

The Center’s primary work on this problem has been to find the actual burial place of the six known black victims of the Rosewood Massacre of 1923. Historical records show that the victims were buried in the black cemetery in Rosewood, but Dunn has found photographic evidence that the victims were buried in Sumner two miles west of Rosewood. The photograph that states that the blacks are being buried two to a grave in Sumner, not Rosewood. The image shows the three open graves.

Upon discovering the photographic evidence Dunn searched back of the Shiloh Cemetery and found evidence of human graves and several mounds. He reported this to the Levy County police on February 17, 2021 and met with Levy County deputies at the scene. The owners of the private cemetery and a county deputy met with Dunn at the cemetery on March 3, 2021 and ordered him not to enter the back of the cemetery again. The owners told him that, “There is nothing to see”. He has respected their demand.