Rosewood, Florida has a lot of important history that helps determine the social changes that the United States faced during the early twentieth century. The destruction of many African-American towns was caused by a race riot in 1923. This riot caused a lot of people (mainly Blacks) to lose their homes, have no place to live in and migrate out. To recover the historical racist and inequality of Rosewood riot event in 1923, Edward Gonzalez-Tennant placed together a Virtual Rosewood research project on the website; http://www.rosewood-heritage.net/. With this, he seeks that the public will remember, learn and “remind us that those who have forgotten are doomed to repeat (Gonzalez-Tennant: homepage).”
His webpage is very interesting because he put together oral history, 3D models, archive documentation (photos, maps, census, etc.). This gives the viewers multiple forms to fully witness and understand the past. Yet, it appears that Gonzalez-Tennant aim to reach towards the minorities for the research is about African-American being discriminated and evicted. Also, he points out towards the majority when he states; this historical event is to “remind us that those who have forgotten are doomed to repeat (Gonzalez-Tennant: homepage).” In other words, he wants the event to be remembered so the mistake will not be repeated. In all, he calls his project virtual reality for he is giving the viewers physical documents, maps, pictures, and information about the site. With this, the people can see exactly how the time looked and how it has changed over time. He informs us that the history can as well help us see if there is still the presence of discrimination and inequality between races.
How can we learn from his virtual reality work and use it in our own the Hidalgo County Public Cemetery Project (HCPCP)? We know that digital techniques have been improving and more people are using the source. Even more, the internet gives worldwide access to the online material, making it not an issue to reach the long-distance areas. With the already created website, the HCPCP can, later on, add the data collections of the monumental structures. This will lead the HCPCP to become a more virtual reality by placing the information on the website. In fact, the current website is heading that way since we are informing the digital public of our project by giving them resources, our thoughts, and historical information. Hopefully, soon we can add some data collection to the site where the public can access the cemetery monuments and burial locations. Also, it would be great if we could provide the original list that the owner has of people buried in the cemetery. This would be very memorable to the family members and those who are interested in historical documents.
In furthering the advertisement, this Spring 2018 semester, we had the local channel 5 News at the site. Hopefully, a lot of locals watched the news and would like to come out and help or find their relatives. The newscast did a great story of Gloria Ramirez and her family members attempting to find their buried relative. The family members at the end found the monument through the use of our already collected data and the deceased name that they provided. It would be cool if the KRGV link of the video was posted on the HCPCP website so other can have easier access to the link. The link is found in http://t.co/00yVag6jod and is titled “Records Unknown, Graves Unmarked at Hidalgo Cemetery (Christian Von Preysing, 2018).” In connection, the web designer of Virtual Rosewood Gonzalez-Tennant public aim was towards everyone and he even has a documentary film of the site. Aside from the local news report, maybe in the future, the area can be documented with relatives, students working the site, the cemetery workers that have helped out with maintenance and even add some history of the time period that the burials consist of. This will give the people more understanding of the deceased time period and the location historical events. Moreover, another aim that the project should trigger is the UTRGV students and other nearby college students that are interested in archaeological fieldwork. By sending out and posting flyer around campuses, students can contact the project director, Dr. Sarah M. Rowe, to participate in the project. This will aid the project in having more helpers to complete the collection more quickly. Also, it will give students more knowledge about the location and about anthropology fieldwork. The fieldwork can count towards volunteer work through the Engagement Zone website https://ez.utrgv.edu/ so volunteer workers can place it on their resumes. It is a win for everyone.
Like Gonzalez-Tennant, the aim for the HCPCP is to remember the past in order to learn and remind us of those who have been forgotten. With that, the cemetery burials will always be recorded in case if natural destruction occurs or other destructive factors. I honestly believe this archaeological fieldwork to be worthwhile because it helps the community’s culture maintenance, awareness of the region’s history, and connecting with the community. In all, the project website is doing great. Once the data is fully collected and revised, the HCPCP hopes to provide online access to each individual grave.