On November 2, 1920, one black man in Ocoee, Florida tried to vote. As a result, over 50 to 60 African-Americans were killed, African-American-owned homes and businesses were razed to the ground, and over 500 people of color fled the area to Winter Garden and other nearby towns.

As a result of this racially-motivated event, one of the worst in American political history, Ocoee would remain an all-white town until 1981.

Mose Norman, an Ocoee resident, was driven away from the polls when he tried to vote not once, but twice. After the second attempt, a white mob went to a nearby home where they thought Norman was hiding, owned by Julius Perry, only to be driven away by the owner of the home.

The white residents called for reinforcements from Orlando and Orange County, and proceeded to flatten any and all African-American property in the town and harass and kill black residents.

Norman is believed to have escaped the massacre, but there are no records of him in the area after the incident.

Perry, however, was publicly lynched. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

Central Florida’s most famous black writer, Zora Neale Hurston, wrote an account of the massacre for the Works Progress Administration in 1939, which was published by Essence magazine 50 years later.

The November 2, 1920 election was also the first Presidential election in which white women were able to vote nation-wide.

Thanks to a $5,000 grant from the Florida Humanities Council, Valencia’s Peace and Justice Institute, in partnership with the Valencia College Foundation, will be hosting a series of community conversations about Florida’s racial history, including a screening of the documentary, “Ocoee: Legacy of the Election-Day Massacre.”

The project stems from the Equal Justice Initiative Orange County Task Force, a group of community partners including the Democracy Forum, Bridge the Gap Coalition, Hannibal Square Heritage Center, the Peace and Justice Institute and the Human Relations Diversity Board in Ocoee.

Scroll down for a schedule of events:

Date: Monday, Feb. 12, 2018
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. (Doors open at 6 p.m.)
Location: Ocoee High School cafeteria, 1925 Ocoee Crown Point Pkwy, Ocoee

Date: Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. (Doors open at 6 p.m.)
Location: Callahan Neighborhood Center, 101 North Parramore Ave., Orlando


Date: Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. (Doors open at 6 p.m.)
Location: Woman’s Club of Winter Park, 419 South Interlachen Ave., Winter Park

Date: Thursday, May 24, 2018
Time: 7 – 9 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
Location: Seminole State College, Building C, 110A/B, 100 Weldon Blvd. Sanford


Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of Bungalower.com

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