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Ocoee community celebrates bill signing of July Perry Memorial Highway

Road marks historic event in Orange County history

OCOEE, Fla. – The road between Winters Landing Drive and Clarke Road along State Road 438 will now be known as Julius “July” Perry Memorial Highway.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB-78 approving the honorary road designation that pays homage to one of the Ocoee Massacre’s notable victims. The event happened nearly 100 years ago when 50 Black men were shot and killed as they tried to exercise their right to vote.

“I will be able to tell my children and my family that here’s a place where my uncle, Julius - the unsung hero, Julius July Perry, stood -- and we’re now standing again,” said Sharon McWhite, the grand great-niece of Julius Perry.

McWhite said almost a hundred years to the date after Perry was lynched and killed, now everyone should know all about the history of the Ocoee Massacre and the impact.

Wednesday, she joined family members, state, and city leaders in Ocoee to announce the passing of a bill that now renames a portion of Silver star road here between Clark Road and Winters Landing drive in Orange County As Julius July Perry Highway.

“This is something that should be done and it’s a good thing it’s being done,” said Stephen Nunn, the great-grandson of Julius July Perry.

Mose Norman was among one of the Black men trying to get to the polls and was determined not to return home without his vote being counted. He along with other Black Americans who were turned away returned only to be turned away again.

The Orange County Regional History Center archives show that the same night Norman attempted to vote, members of the KKK showed up at Perry’s home in an attempt to find Norman and a shooting ensued. Perry was captured by the KKK, and according to the History Center, was lynched.

Sen. Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee) proposed the bill to help spread the story of the Ocoee Massacre and to acknowledge the history that is woven into the town’s fabric.

“He knew that he was risking his life and yet he did it anyway And lost his life so he needs to be remembering,” said Senator Bracy.

“He paid a big price, and so many others paid a big price for all of us to have the right to vote and we want everyone to exercise that right,” said Representative Thompson.

This comes weeks after Senator Bracy and the family of Julius July Perry’s family pushed for schools to teach kids more about the Ocoee Massacre. Leaders said the road renaming is a symbol to not forget the sacrifice. They said the street marker should be up by November.


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