MOUNT DORA, Fla. – Through a celebration of courage, dozens came out to see the brand-new sculpture of Mabel Norris Reese.
Reese was a pioneer journalist who was the owner, publisher, and lead reporter for the Mount Dora Topic.
She reported on the case of the Groveland Four, the Black men falsely accused of raping a white teenager in Lake County.
“In 1954 she started reporting stories in the Mount Dora Topic empathetic to the decision of the supreme court and that led to the Ku Klux Klan going to her house here in Mount Dora burning a cross in her yard,” Gary McKechnie, Mabel Norris Reese Tribute Organizer said.
Reese was described as a woman who was never afraid and, at the time of the Groveland Four case, she highlighted corruption and reported the facts.
“She had the courage when she saw injustice to call it out and to point out that just because people are in power doesn’t mean they’re right,” Rep. Geraldine Thompson said.
The man behind the sculpture, Jim McNails, spoke about how he learned about Reese’s life through her granddaughter, Cindy.
“She moved to Daytona, made a new life, worked for the Daytona Beach news journal, but still had that festering wound of what happened here in Mount Dora,” Cindy Erickson said.
McNails and Erickson both unveiled Reese’s statue on Friday.
“Look at how she’s finally welcomed back to Lake County and Mount Dora with open arms,” Erickson said.