The Romey Lynchings

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In the early morning hours of Friday, May 17th, 1929, a Lebanese immigrant was lynched in Lake City, Florida. He was shot multiple times and left to die along a lonely stretch of the road heading south out of Lake City to Fort White.

N'oula Romey was the fourth victim of racial terror that year in Florida, and one of ten people who were lynched by white mobs across the US in 1929 alone. Just hours before, his wife Hasna (Fannie) Rahme was fatally shot by Lake City police in their store. Their tragic murders were the most gruesome and violent attacks on Lebanese immigrants in the US, but this was not an isolated incident. Their killing was a part, and the culmination, of a widespread pattern of racially-motivated hostility, vitriol and physical abuse directed at early Arab immigrants who came to, worked, and lived in America between the 1890s and the 1930s.

This award winning project tells their story. It seeks to understand the events leading up to, and culminating in, the lynching of N'oula and the murder of Hasna. Who killed them? Why did the stories of this double tragedy diverge between the English and Arabic language press? What happened to their family in the aftermath? How did different members of the local community, and Lebanese immigrants react? And why was their story hidden for all of these years?

We would like to thank the Moses and Giardina families for their generosity in giving us access to, and permission to use, some of their archived material in this project. We especially thank Sandy Moses Ryland for sharing with us her research into the Romey case.

We would also like to acknowledge the pioneering work of Dr. Sarah Gualtieri, who did extensive research on, and first wrote about, the Romey case in her book: Between Arab and White: Race and Ethnicity in the Early Syrian American Diaspora. Her work is a major scholarly foundation of this project.

The Romeys Story

Documentary Film

(Released: February 2020) This 26 minute film about the lynching and murder of Nou'la and Hasna Romey includes visuals, expert testimony, and the perspective of family members left grappling with a tragic legacy.

الفيلم الوثائقيDocumentary (English)

Full Length Narrative

Read the full narrative of the Romey lynchings within the context of the history of racial violence

قصة عائلة رومي Romey Family Story

Primary Source Archive

Search through newspaper accounts, letters to Florida's governor, and other primary sources directly related to the Romey's case.

Maps and Timeline

Explore how events unfolded through interactive maps and a detailed timeline surrounding May 16th, 1929.

Romey-Moses Family Archive

Browse intimate family photos donated by the descendants of the Romeys and their Moses family cousins.

Documentary Awards