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Rosewood massacre survivor Arnett Goins dies at 87

As a child in 1923, Mr. Goins fled a rampage of whites through the black community New Year's Day.

By CRAIG BASSE, Times Obituaries Editor

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 26, 2002


As a child in 1923, Mr. Goins fled a rampage of whites through the black community New Year's Day.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Arnett Turner "A.T." Goins, one of the last elderly survivors of a mob attack that wiped out the predominantly black community of Rosewood, has died at 87.

Mr. Goins, who came here in 1932, nine years after the massacre, died Sunday (March 24, 2002) at Crystal Oaks of St. Petersburg.

In 1994 he was one of a dwindling group of elderly survivors of the attack who began to receive the first installment of a $150,000 award the state agreed to pay after acknowledging that it neglected to protect the community from a mob of whites in 1923.

The Legislature awarded $150,000 each to Mr. Goins, Minnie Lee Langley, 81; Wilson Hall, 79; and Willie Evans, 86, after they proved they were present during the racial violence.

On New Year's Day 1923, a group of whites went on a rampage after an unsuccessful search for a black man accused of assaulting a white woman. A posse turned into a mob that burned almost every structure in the community of about 120 residents.

At least six black people and two white people died.

While the massacre was widely reported at the time, it was an overlooked part of history until relatives of survivors persuaded them to talk about it in recent years.

A claims bill passed by state lawmakers provided compensation for people who fled the violence and descendants of black families who lost their property. Survivors with verifiable accounts were eligible for up to $150,000 each.

State officials approved early payments for survivors who testified that they fled as children from the rampage through the community near Gainesville. Payments under the claims bill were supposed to start in early 1995, but officials and survivor advocates feared some victims might die without getting a check.

A native of Rosewood, Mr. Goins worked as a plasterer for a construction company after moving to St. Petersburg.

Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Anna Maude; a sister, Vera Hamilton, Lacoochee; and nine grandchildren.

A daughter, Dr. Annette T. Goins Shakir, 58, the founder and director of Rosewood Heritage Foundation, died last Dec. 29 in St. Petersburg.

Friends may call from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday at McRae Funeral Home, 1940 M.L. King (Ninth) St. S. A service will be at 11 a.m. Friday at the funeral home chapel with burial at Royal Palm Cemetery South.

-- Information from Times files was used in this obituary.

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