‘N—-rs, Out Here!’: Black Historian Says His Son Was Nearly Killed By Man Yelling Racist Insults In Rosewood, Site of Florida Racial Massacre

A prominent Black historian is afraid to return to his property in Florida after he and his son were verbally assaulted and almost struck by a vehicle driven by a neighbor yelling racial slurs, he told Atlanta Black Star.

Former Florida International University Professor Marvin Dunn, 82, said he and his son and a group of associates were meeting with a contractor to clear land on a property he is preserving in Rosewood, Florida, when a man with a home across the street questioned their presence on the side of the road. When Dunn responded, he said it set the neighbor off into an angry fit.

“He says to me, ‘what’s going on out here?’ And I said, ‘I own this property,’ and before I could get another word out. He says, ‘well, why don’t y’all park on your side of the road,” Dunn told Atlanta Black Star. “I said,’ actually, this is a public road. We can park anywhere we want to,’ and that sent this man off into a rage.”

The professor, a Black history expert, said he secured co-ownership of the property to preserve the land. He says it is the only plot of land owned by a Black person in Rosewood, a town with a dark, racist and violent past.

Until 99 years ago, Rosewood was a predominantly Black self-sufficient town before a racially motivated massacre wiped it out. Dunn said it is the “most important racial incident in Florida history.”

“The town was burned down. Everybody left. We don’t know how many people were killed ultimately,” Dunn said. “So, the properties that were owned by Black people were bought up by white people. Rosewood is now a bedroom community, just nine miles from the Gulf of Mexico.”

Dunn plans to do high school tours of the land in January for the 100th anniversary of the massacre, and he and the group, met with a contractor on Tuesday, Sept. 6, to discuss building a fence to line the property.

After they refused to move, Dunn said the neighbor hit the gas, turned his pickup truck around, drove to his property, and then came back charging towards the group of eight people, six of them Black, before running off the road. Dunn’s son, Doug, had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit.

“My son came within inches of losing his life,” Dunn said.

“As the man was charging us with his truck, he was screaming racial epithets, N—-rs! N—-rs! N—-rs, out here! He told one of the white men. He’s just as bad as them,” Dunn continued.

Bobby Prevatt, the contractor, said they were standing on the side of the county roadway when the man approached Dunn in a newer model Ford F-250 on 35-inch tires. He said the man was belligerent, but Dunn was polite and even called him, “sir.”

“He pulls up, and he says, ‘what the f—- are you n—-rs doing in these woods?’ And Mr. Marvin said, ‘Sir, I’m on my own property,’ ” Prevatt told Atlanta Black Star.

The contractor, who is white, called the authorities. He said the man was gunning the truck at 50 miles per hour when he returned.

“When he’d come back around the second time, I’m thinking this guy’s got a gun, and I literally put my hand on my weapon. I thought I was gonna have to defend my life and the other guys that were there,” he said. “At that point, I didn’t know whether this guy was fixing to start shooting or whether he was gonna start spinning donuts trying to run us all over.”

The Levy County Sheriff’s deputy who responded to the call interviewed the man’s wife. The alleged attacker left skid marks behind but was not at home. Dunn said the deputy said she might arrest the man, but as of Thursday afternoon, a Levy County Sheriff spokesperson said she had not completed an incident report. The deputy is expected to return Friday to file it.

Levy County Lt. Scott Tummond confirmed Thursday that the agency responded to the incident.

“I have no ability to comment on the ongoing investigation at this time under Chapter 119 (Florida public records law),” Tummond told Atlanta Black Star on Thursday. Still, Tummond told the Miami Herald that Dunn and the driver were “cussing back and forth,” which Prevatt refutes.

Dunn said he had encountered the man before, and he would often drive by with the truck and kick up clay.

“So, he’s always been menacing to me, but he never said anything to me,” Dunn said. The professor has reported the incident as a hate crime to the FBI.

Dunn returned to his home in Miami on Thursday without finalizing the plan to complete the work. However, the historian said he is traumatized by the incident and is afraid to return to Rosewood until the man is no longer a threat. Prevatt said he also fears that he is now a target.

The Rosewood massacre in 1923 was prompted by the lynching of a Black Rosewood resident targeted by a white mob of residents from nearby towns. The man was accused of attacking a white woman. Hundreds of white men reportedly swarmed Rosewood killing some residents and burning down every structure. The massacre was the center of a 1997 film by John Singleton of the same name.

Early reports showed that about 200 people were killed in the massacre, but a 1993 report found that six Black people and two white people were killed in the melee, according to Britannica.

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