From whispers to shouts
By EILEEN SCHULTE
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 3, 2000
Back when Annette Goins Shakir was a small child growing up in St. Petersburg, she never, ever dared join in adult conversations.
She knew better.
So when the whispering began -- and it always did -- she would hide from the eyes of her relatives and listen to what she called "pieces of things" so monstrous they could only be discussed in hushed voices still tinged with fright.
But at 1 p.m. Saturday at Heritage Village in Largo, she will talk openly and without fear about the 1923 Rosewood massacre, a subject that was taboo not only in her childhood home, but throughout the entire state of Florida, she said.
It was only in the early 1970s, when news accounts surfaced about the attack on the town, that she was able to discuss the incident with her father, Arnett Turner Goins, a Rosewood survivor.
At 83, her father is still reluctant to discuss the Rosewood incident with strangers. But Goins Shakir likes to talk about it, and she wants to spread the word to as many people as she can.
"We see telling the story as a healing process," Goins Shakir said. "We also want to give an accurate account of what happened."
Goins Shakir is the executive director of the Rosewood foundation and director of the Teacher Education Institute at Bethune-Cookman College.
She has not seen Rosewood, the movie about the incident, partly because she wants to honor her father who is still uncomfortable about the subject, and partly because "I go to movies to be entertained. I don't find this entertaining."
And she has not traveled to the now-desserted place where the town once stood (she said she may in the future, but she's not yet ready), but she has cousins who give tours there.
Goins Shakir isn't going to bring any artifacts with her as visual aids; part of what little is left from Rosewood is on exhibit at Bethune-Cookman College.
Her talk, which is funded by the Florida Humanities Council and sponsored by the Pinellas County African American History Museum Inc., will consist of a Powerpoint presentation and a slide show to educate those who either don't know what happened on those terrible days in 1923 or know very little.
On Jan. 4 Goins Shakir's father, 8-year-old Turner Goins, and a few other children were visiting Turner Goins' grandmother, Sara Robinson Carrier.
While Carrier looked after the children and went about her business, a white married woman named Fannie Taylor of nearby Sumner was telling people she was assaulted by a black man.
"A posse of white men went to look for the so-called (suspect), and they supposedly tracked him to Rosewood," Goins Shakir said.
The posse stopped in front of Carrier's house, tried to break in and began shooting inside the place. Carrier got hit and died in front of the children. Turner Goins' uncle, Sylvester Carrier, vainly tried to defend the family and returned fire.
"Supposedly he was killed," Goins Shakir said. "There were rumors he survived."
When the posse had exhausted its rage, at least eight people lay dead. The town was destroyed.
Wearing only their night clothes, Turner Goins and the other children fled into the woods where they spent three days and nights in the freezing cold, afraid to come out. Eventually, a train was sent to pick up the women and children who survived. It dropped them off in nearby Gainesville.
It was only a few years ago when Turner Goins, who still lives in St. Petersburg, was reunited with a fellow child survivor of Rosewood, Robie Mortin.
Mortin and Turner Goins are two of an estimated five survivors of Rosewood still living. Goins Shakir said there may be more out there somewhere, but they are reluctant to come forward.
If they exist, she hopes to hear from them. But more importantly, "I would like to see people gain respect for one another, to realize that human beings have God-given rights," she said.
If you go
Annette Goins Shakir, daughter of a Rosewood massacre survivor, will give a free speech about the 1923 incident at 1 p.m. Saturday at Heritage Village, 11909 125th St. N., Largo. Her presentation will cover the events that led up to the tragedy, the incident itself, its aftermath, and how it has affected her family and the families of other survivors. The one-hour talk will also feature a question-and-answer session. For information about the lecture or directions to Heritage Village, call (727) 582-2123 or visit the Heritage Village web site at http://www.co.pinellas.fl.us/bcc/heritag.htm.
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