100 years after Ocoee Massacre city leaders apologize, honor victims

OCOEE, Fla. – Ocoee city leaders signed an apology letter Wednesday more than 100 years after Black people were killed in the Ocoee Massacre fighting for their right to vote.

The city’s mayor and other city leaders acknowledged and recognized the tragic day which happened in on Election Day in 1920, when dozens of Black men were killed by a white mob after Moses Norman tried to legally cast his ballot in the city.

It’s still unclear just how many Black men were killed in total, with reports as high as 60 men, when they tried to exercise their right to vote.

“My theory is it’s something that should have never happened. It shouldn’t happen today, and it shouldn’t have happened back then,” Mayor Rusty Johnson said. “Every man and every woman have a right to vote."

Many of the stories of the Ocoee Massacre went untold for a century.

Johnson has taken part at county events this week to pay tribute to the sacrifices made by those who were killed, and it’s also why the city of Ocoee he said has been hosting its own events to pay respect to their ancestors' families.

“I’m apologizing under the city, that it’s something that happened that I don’t believe should have happened, but I didn’t have anything to do with it,” Johnson said.

The mayor said the city also has a diversity board in place, diverse employees and city programming to try and better address equality for everyone.

The great grand-niece of July Perry, one of the men killed during the Ocoee Massacre, said she appreciates the apology but believes there’s still way more to be done.

“I think it’s been long overdue,” said Sharon Mcwhite. “I am asking for a change.”

McWhite went on to say those changes could include more acknowledgement and respect for what happened in Ocoee.

Read more about the events hosted by the city of Ocoee to pay tribute to the Black people killed in the Ocoee Massacre here.

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