On 100th anniversary, Ocoee Massacre comes into focus

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Nov. 2 marks the 100th anniversary of the Ocoee Massacre, considered our country’s most deadly Election Day. But this little-known tragic moment in Florida’s history has been coming into focus.

Dozens of African American residents of Ocoee, a town just outside of Orlando, were murdered and their property destroyed after one of them attempted to vote. 

The Ocoee Massacre is just one of the significant events featured in Florida Humanities’ African American history archives. The online collection was launched in September in response to the killing of George Floyd. Keith Simmons, communications director of Florida Humanities, said the Ocoee Massacre is an essential but often overlooked piece of Florida’s past. 

“It is one of those pivotal moments in Florida’s African American history that a lot of people aren’t aware of. This is something that has certainly influenced the development of Central Florida after it happened in 1920. For decades afterward, you didn’t have African Americans going and living in Ocoee. It was known for that particular massacre.” 

A new state law aims to make more people aware of the Ocoee Massacre by teaching it schools, featuring it in museums and naming schools and state parks after its victims. State Senator Randolph Bracy of Orange County led the effort to pass the law last year. But at a press conference this summer, Sen. Bracy said there’s more to be done. 

“I think there’s a financial implication to what happened in the Ocoee Massacre. I think there needs to be financial reparations. When you talk about government sponsored land theft, where property was taken and it’s worth millions of dollars today, I think there’s a duty to repair that.”