More than 70 years after a racist rampage left a small black community in flames and its terrified residents scattered, Florida acknowledged its responsibility Wednesday and agreed to pay $2.1 million in compensation.
Seven survivors looked on as Gov. Lawton Chiles approved legislation that will pay up to $150,000 to anyone who proves he or she was forced to flee from the violence that wiped out Rosewood in January, 1923.
Survivors said the plan would ease some of the bitter memories of the loss of lives, homes and land.
"I believed that deep down in my heart from the day my mother told us we had to leave home that the Lord would one day provide for me before I died," 74-year-old Mary Magdalene Hall said. "This is that day, my lucky day."
"I have to be satisfied, but they're not making up for all of our loss," said Hall's 79-year-old brother, Wilson, who was 8 when his family fled their house.
A mob of whites went on a weeklong rampage after unsuccessfully searching for a black man accused of assaulting a white woman. They burned virtually every building in Rosewood and killed at least six of the 120 blacks who lived there. At least two white men also were killed.
Descendants said state and local officials knew about the violence but did nothing to prevent it.
Today, all that remains of the Gulf Coast community near Gainesville are markers on Florida 24.