Marking 100 years since the Ocoee Massacre: Florida governor declares day of remembrance

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Tuesday marks 100 years since the bloodiest day in modern American election history.

In 1920, a white mob formed after a black man, Moses Norman, tried to exercise his right to vote.

A man named Julius “July” Perry was lynched, and black landowners and residents were forced to run for their lives.

READ: Why we produced the Ocoee Massacre story

Many died in their homes when they were set on fire. It’s an event known as the Ocoee Massacre.

On Tuesday, local and state leaders marked the day by recognizing the victims and honoring their descendants.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a proclamation declaring Nov. 2, 2020 as 1920 Ocoee Election Day Massacre Remembrance Day in Florida.

>>> Click here to read Channel 9′s full, in-depth coverage a century after the Ocoee Massacre <<<

“On the 100th anniversary of this bloody day in our state’s history, Floridians should honor the memory of the victims of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Massacre, and remain vigilant against hatred, persecution, and tyranny of any kind,” the proclamation reads.

Locally, leaders gathered at the Orange County Regional History Center to honor those killed in the massacre.

“Some fought for their right to vote and lost their homes and livelihood,” said Narisse Spicer, whose great-grandparents lived through the massacre.

>>> Click here to watch the full Channel 9 documentary film on the Ocoee Massacre <<<

Some, like Spicer’s relatives, barely escaped with their lives.

“They fled to Apopka,” she said.

At Tuesday’s events, descendants received a special proclamation letting them know their loved ones didn’t die in vain.

“Today is a joyous but somber occasion because we are here to remember them, but it’s also a painful moment for our families,” Spicer said.

Though pleased with today’s commemoration, the families here would like to see more light shed on the Ocoee Massacre, saying it’s not just a piece of Central Florida history, but American history.

Watch Channel 9’s full documentary film below:


Q Mccray

Q McCray, WFTV.com

Q McCray is an award-winning general assignment reporter.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

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.