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Barry University Hosts New Center for Racial Justice

By Meredith Amor
Director of Communications, Barry University

March 2, 2021, Miami, Florida – The Rosewood Massacre of 1923 in Levy County, Florida, is a painful and often overlooked stain on American history, sadly representative of the Black experience in the early 20th century. This year during Black History Month, renowned Florida historian Dr. Marvin Dunn brought the nearly century-old story of violence and bloodshed in the predominantly African American town to Barry University to mark the establishment of the new Arthur Lee McDuffie Center for Racial Justice, and its temporary home at Barry University. 

Dr. Michael Allen, President of Barry University, addresses the audience during a talk on the Rosewood Massacre.

The event featured a talk by Dr. Dunn and a preview of artifacts from the Center’s inaugural exhibition, currently in development.

The Arthur Lee McDuffie Center for Racial Justice was founded by Dr. Dunn and a group of community advocates for racial justice and peace in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in May 2020. The Center is named in honor of Arthur McDuffie, whose brutal killing at the hands of Miami-Dade Police sparked the 1980 McDuffie Riots in Miami. 

The Center is focused on preserving and telling the stories of racial violence in Florida and working toward racial reconciliation and healing. 

“The Arthur Lee McDuffie Center for Racial Justice will be a beacon in our community,” said Dr. Dunn. “We seek to foster a safe space for dialogue on racial issues, to promote unity, and allow for frank confrontation of the history of racial terror through the examination of the stories of Rosewood, Arthur McDuffie, and so many more.”  

Barry University’s Monsignor William Barry Memorial Library will be the Center’s temporary home until a permanent facility is constructed.

Dr. Michael Allen, President of Barry University, reflected on the synergy of the partnership. “Fighting for social justice and fostering inclusive communities is integral to our Barry University identity,” he said. “We are proud and honored to collaborate with Dr. Dunn and the Arthur Lee McDuffie Center for Racial Justice as we forge a path to a more just society.”

The Center’s first exhibit, “The Rosewood Story,” features rare artifacts from the town that was burnt to the ground by a white mob, as well as recorded oral histories from survivors and their descendants. 

Dr. Marvin Dunn stands with artifacts from the inaugural exhibition of the Arthur Lee McDuffie Center for Racial Justice.

Feature photo (top): Dr. Marvin Dunn speaks on the Rosewood Massacre during the launching event of the Arthur Lee McDuffie Center for Racial Justice, based temporarily at Barry University. 

Photos courtesy of the Barry University Communications Department

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