Sun Burst

About This Episode

The Withers-Maguire House

The Ocoee massacre was a white mob attack on African-American residents in northern Ocoee, Florida, which occurred on November 2, 1920, the day of the U.S. presidential election. The town is in Orange County near Orlando. As many as 60 or 70 African Americans may have been killed during the riot, and most African-American-owned buildings and residences in northern Ocoee were burned to the ground. Other African Americans living in southern Ocoee were later killed or driven out on threat of more violence. Ocoee essentially became an all-white town. The riot has been described as the “single bloodiest day in modern American political history”.

The attack started after efforts to suppress black voting. In Ocoee and across the state, various black organizations had been conducting voter registration drives for a year. Blacks had essentially been disfranchised in Florida since the turn of the 19th century. Mose Norman, a prosperous African-American farmer, tried to vote but was turned away twice on Election Day. Norman was among those working on the voter drive. A white mob surrounded the home of Julius “July” Perry, where Norman was thought to have taken refuge. After Perry drove away the white mob with gunshots, killing two men and wounding one who tried to break into his house, the mob called for reinforcements from Orlando and Orange County. The whites laid waste to the African-American community in northern Ocoee and eventually killed Perry. They took his body to Orlando and hanged it from a light-post to intimidate other blacks. Norman escaped. Hundreds of other African Americans fled the town, leaving behind their homes and possessions.

If you would like to learn more about the fascinating history of Orlando, visit the Orange County Regional History Center in downtown Orlando.

Location: Orange County Regional History Center, 65 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801
Phone: (407) 836-8500
Website:http://www.thehistorycenter.org/

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