Lake County

Portrait of journalist acclaimed for Groveland Four reporting to be unveiled this week

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — A bronze portrait of a Lake County journalist acclaimed for her reporting on the Groveland Four case will be unveiled in Mount Dora on Friday.

The event scheduled for 10 a.m. at Sunset Park, called “A Celebration of Courage,” will honor journalist Mabel Norris Reese. It is open to the public.

READ: Summary of FDLE investigation into Groveland Four case released: Here’s what we learned

Her reporting on the case of the Groveland Four, four African-American men falsely accused of raping a white teenager, shined a spotlight on corrupt Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall. As a result, the city said Reese became a target of McCall whose colleagues detonated bombs at her home, burned a cross in her yard, poisoned her dog, and vandalized her newspaper office.

McCall also launched a rival newspaper to challenge Reese’s Mount Dora Topic.

READ: ‘It’s a statement for women everywhere’: Journalist honored with statue for reporting on Groveland Four

“Few women in America, especially female journalists and investigative reporters, are represented in sculptures and portraits,” said Gary McKechnie, founder of the Mabel Norris Reese Tribute Fund. “With fewer than 10% of statues in America representing women, Mabel deserves to be remembered; not just to remind us of the importance of a free press, but to remind everyone of their role as citizens in a democratic society.”

Channel 9 was the first to report on Tuesday that a summary of the FDLE investigation into the Groveland Four case had been released. Click here to read its findings.

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

Funding Reese project began with donations from across the country through GoFundMe, and continued with grants from the Mount Dora Public Arts Commission, Mount Dora Community Trust, and other personal contributions.

For more information, click here.


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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson,

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.