Ocoee’s gruesome Election Day story is part of the larger American story of racial injustice, which State Senator Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee) has made significant strides in addressing. Earlier today, SB 1262: 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots passed favorably during its second hearing in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice.
The notorious Election Day incident began when a prominent black landowner, Julius “July” Perry, was lynched for attempting to exercise his right to vote. Ocoee’s African American population was forced to abandon their homes and property, or risk a fate similar to July Perry’s at the hands of a deputized mob and local government officials. According to census records, hundreds of black residents fled as a result of the incident, and an estimated fifty black residents were murdered during the Election Day riot.
What the legislation would do is pay homage to the victims’ and descendants’ of this tragic massacre. It achieves this in many ways by directing the State to examine how the Ocoee incident could be taught in schools and encouraging museums to promote this history through exhibits and educational programs.
Senator Bracy has relentlessly shone a light on this dark part of history and noted: “Given that 2020 will mark the centennial of this horrific tragedy, I believe it is an appropriate time for our legislature to offer healing and closure to the individuals impacted by this painful legacy”. The legislation now awaits its last committee hearing in the Appropriations Committee.