What Happened in Rosedale: Video capturing racial violence in the ’70s has suddenly gone viral

ROSEDALE, Queens — More than 40 years ago, PBS documented the racial tensions in Rosedale, but viral clips posted on Twitter show the issues still resonate now.

The clip from Bill Moyers' "Rosedale: The Way It Is" 1976 documentary has been viewed 4.2 million times. The documentary examined the residential neighborhood of Rosedale when the Spencers, a black middle-class family, moved into the white working-class neighborhood. At the time, Glenda Spencer said she was there to stay and that nothing was going to change that.

She's still there and, even now, burnt floorboards are visible under the radiator where someone tried to set the house on fire after the Spencers moved in. Two pipe bombs were planted and one exploded.

"If the second bomb had gone off, we wouldn't be here," Spencer said.

The bomb had a note attached.

"It said 'n----r beware,'" Spencer said.

Police had to stay on scene for a year. Fast forward 44 years, and Spencer wants to thank Hunter College grad student Sola Olosunde, who repopularized the documentary.

"I didn't expect it to get this much attention," he said.

In addition to the views, it's also been shared about 62,000 times and gotten more than a hundred thousand likes. Oslunde believes it's because the content of the documentary still resonates

"People have this sense of anxiety about people of color growing in number, and people of color coming in," he said. "I think it's still connected to that."

The segment of the documentary Olosunde posted that got the most attention features white children from the neighborhood confronting black children from a nearby neighborhood who were curious about the demonstrations.

"People see New York as this open place where everybody accepts each other," he said. "That is really not the case."

Spencer agreed that the racism shown in Rosedale in the 1976 documentary still exists in America now.

"Look at the problem. It's the way it is," she said. "It still is."

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