Exactly 16 years ago today, John Singleton
opened nationwide. The Warner Bros. film was Singleton's fourth movie, and his most political. Previously he earned big hits with urban classics like Poetic Justice
and Boyz n the Hood
, but Rosewood was far from urban—it was set in the Jim Crow South. The cast included Jon Voight
, Ving Rhames
, Don Cheadle
and Esther Rolle
in her last role before she passed.
is based on the true story of the January 1923 massacre in Rosewood, Florida. Poor whites in nearby towns were jealous that Rosewood, a primarily Black town, was so prosperous. After word spread of an unsupported allegation that a Black man raped a white woman, angry mobs of whites gathered to destroy Rosewood—and they did. In real life, numerous lynchings occurred (including the cutting off of pieces of dead Black bodies as "souvenirs"), and Rosewood was burned to the ground.
Over 60 years later, CNN reported on the history of Rosewood, which inspired Singleton to turn the Rosewood story into a film.
did not perform well at the box office. The flick only grossed a little over $13 million. Nonetheless, it was an educational and emotional movie that highlighted a piece of ignored history: life in the Jim Crow South.
Check out the vintage trailer below!