Lake County

'A very worthwhile journey’: Groveland Four monument unveiled in Lake County

TAVARES, Fla. — Four black men wrongly accused of raping a white woman more than 70 years ago were memorialized in Lake County Friday, marking a moment their surviving relatives have been waiting for for decades.

The monument honors the four men known as the Groveland Four: Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd and Ernest Thomas.

“This has been a hard journey, but a good journey. A very worthwhile journey,” said Carol Grennlee, daughter of Charles Greenlee.

READ MORE: New monument to honor the Groveland Four slated for Lake County

The granite memorial features a bronze plaque imprinted with a written account of the ordeal, which was prepared with help from the families.

“While we cannot change the past, we can learn from it, and we can assure that our institutions today provide equal and fair justice to all,” said Lake County Commission Chairman Leslie Campione.

The Florida Board of Executive Clemency voted to pardon the Groveland Four in January 2019.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis attended Friday’s event, offering his support to their surviving families.

“I hope that it will bring peace to their families and to their communities,” DeSantis said.

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More than 100 people from the community attended the dedication, including family members of the Groveland Four.

Charles Greenlee’s son, Thomas Greenlee, said this monument is just the beginning.

“I won’t rest until my father is exonerated,” he said. “... An exoneration means that the crime never should have been there in the first place, which is what we’ve been pushing for, for over 70 years.”

READ: Judge Belvin Perry recalls growing up during segregation, the KKK, why his father became an OPD cop

Christopher Boyce,

Christopher Boyce joined WFTV in January of 2019.

Q Mccray

Q McCray,

Q McCray is an award-winning general assignment reporter.

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