Press Release
January 6, 2023

Holland & Knight Sponsors Historic Rosewood Massacre Centennial at the University of Florida

Former Holland & Knight partners will discuss the event's legacy and their role in obtaining justice

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (January 6, 2023) – Holland & Knight, in partnership with the University of Florida and the Southern Poverty Law Center, will sponsor the centennial commemoration of the historic Rosewood Massacre of 1923 by honoring the victims, descendants and families with multiple events at the University of Florida the week of January 8-14.

A century ago in Levy County, Florida, the town of Rosewood experienced one of the most horrific events in American history when a racially motivated attack decimated the predominantly African American town and devastated its residents. Despite being terrorized by those events, survivors and descendants of Rosewood got justice, becoming the first African Americans to receive compensation from a legislative body in America.

Former Holland & Knight Partners Steve Hanlon and Martha Barnett and current Partner Miguel De Grandy each had key roles in creating the $2.1 million Rosewood Claims bill and getting the Florida legislature to pass it in 1994. The bill essentially acknowledged the state's failure to protect the Rosewood community and compensated both survivors and their descendants.

"I am proud to be part of a firm that cares about the communities it serves and takes on challenging cases like this one," said Miguel De Grandy, a Holland & Knight partner who, as a state representative, sponsored the Rosewood Claims bill and argued in its defense. "This bill was about upholding the rights of these American citizens who were entitled to equal protection under the law. The study that we commissioned unearthed not just the hidden history of Rosewood, but the shameful inaction of state and local authorities."

Mr. Hanlon and Ms. Barnett, who represented Rosewood survivors pro bono, are set to speak at the Legacy Forum & Reception on January 13 at the University of Florida, Levin College of Law, about Rosewood's legacy, race relations and the importance of generational wealth.

More information about Holland & Knight's role in the road to redemption for the Rosewood victims, click here.

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