OCOEE, Fla. – State Sen. Randolph Bracy announced the approval of the Ocoee Massacre Compensation Scholarship, which was signed into law on Wednesday by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Descendants of the tragedy said having a scholarship means so much because it not only recognizes that atrocity but helps pave the way for future generations.
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“Now for future families we will be able to provide scholarships that will go on for generations to come,” Bracy said.
In 1920, dozens of African-Americans were killed or injured by white mobs to keep them from voting on Election Day.
Years later descendants such as Gladys Bell said she is happy funds like this are coming to younger generations as she reflects on stories from her grandfather.
“He was only 18 when he had to flee with his sisters and brothers… one on his back; he just had to run through and around Lake Apopka through the woods to escape being killed,” Bell said.
Funds for the compensation scholarship will be available in July, the money will go to 50 scholarships, which would give a graduating high school student going to a college or university around $6,000 per year.
To be eligible, you have to be a descendant of a victim of the massacre or an Black student residing in Ocoee.
Students will have to apply through the Florida Attorney General’s Office. Students can start applying for the scholarship July 1.
Graduating seniors are also eligible and the scholarship funding may be distributed as early as the fall semester.
Graduates like Rain Bellamy, who will be attending Florida State University in the fall, said this money means more than the funds that could be provided.
“Seeing the things that have happened to people that look like me, people that could be my ancestors, it is amazing to see that there is someone making an effort to say that my life and my future matters despite what may have been taken away from those who didn’t get a chance to do so,” Bellamy said.
The Ocoee Education Bill, which was signed into law to educate young people on this tragedy, will go into effect this fall.
Officials said they hope to expand this scholarship as time goes on.