OCOEE, Fla. – Nov. 2, 2020, marks 100 years since one of the darkest days in Central Florida history. The Ocoee Massacre, the day when dozens of African-Americans were killed by a white mob after Moses Norman tried to legally cast his ballot in the city.
On Monday, Orlando and Orange County leaders met with descendants of the victims killed in the tragedy at a new exhibit at the Orange County Regional History Center.
It’s unclear how many Black men were killed, although some reports suggest up to 60, when they tried to exercise their right to vote.
Sha’ron McWhite, the great-niece of July Perry, who was lynched in 1920, said her great uncle was Norman’s friend.
“To know that a loved one was lynched, for no reason -- senseless -- that is not something that you talk about day to day,” McWhite said.
On Monday, McWhite told News 6 turning out to vote is one of the best ways to honor her ancestors.
“This happened over 100 years ago,” McWhite said. “I am so emotional for all the families.”
Even 100 years later to date, the many dark and untold stories from the Ocoee Massacre are now all coming to light.
“If you want to honor your ancestors, vote,” said Jacqueline Perry Blaylock, the great grand niece of Perry.
Narisse Spicer, the descendant of John and Lucy Hickey, from Ocoee, said the victims were honest people who valued family.
"I can only imagine that everything they endured is now being brought to light,” Spicer said.
George Oliver was also at the remembrance event Monday. He’s the first Black person to be elected to the Ocoee City Commission.
“You hear old Ocoee vs. new Ocoee, my mission and goal is to bring us all together to be one Ocoee,” Oliver said.
On Wednesday, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings declared Nov. 2 as “The Descendants of the Ocoee Massacre: Honoring their Ancestors Day” in Orange County. Their families were given a proclamation.
“We can build a better community by creating a culture of innovation, collaboration and inclusion,” Demings said.
Gov. Ron DeSantis also issued a proclamation designating Nov. 2, 2020 as 1920 Ocoee Election Day Massacre Remembrance Day in Florida.
There are also now plans to have the Ocoee Massacre taught in Florida schools.
The city of Ocoee has several other events planned throughout the week.
Honoring the Memory - Nov. 4, 2020 - 5-7:30 p.m.
Honoring the Memory - Join us on a Memorial Walk around the lakefront of Ocoee City Hall to honor the memory of those lost during the 1920 Voting Massacre and declare “Never Again!!”
Healing the Wound - Nov. 6, 2020 - 7-8:30 p.m.
Healing the Wound - Explore with us how our small city has healed over the decades, which has not always been easy. We must move forward by learning. We welcome you for an Interfaith Service.
A Day of Remembrance - Unveiling of Historic Marker - Nov. 8, 2020 - 4-7:30 p.m.
A Day of Remembrance - Join us for our final but most exciting day. Learn from guest speakers and descendants and conclude with the unveiling of the historic marker.