Media Contact

Casey Bruce-White, ACLU of Florida, 
Beverlye Neal, President, NAACP Orange County Branch,

October 28, 2020

ORLANDO, Fla. — The ACLU of Florida and the Orange County Branch of the NAACP sent a letter and formal request on Oct.23 to Gov. Ron DeSantis requesting that he issue a proclamation recognizing Nov. 2 as a day of remembrance that honors the Black residents of Ocoee, Fla., who were killed and had their property destroyed because they tried to exercise their fundamental right to vote.

A century ago, in 1920, Black residents of Ocoee, Fla., were intentionally and violently denied their right to vote, were murdered, and had their property destroyed in what is now known as the “1920 Election Day Massacre.” The ACLU and NAACP stated that a proclamation honoring the lives lost in the 1920 Election Day Massacre will acknowledge Florida’s past role in one of the worst election day racial violence incidents in the country and will demonstrate the state’s present commitment to ensuring that this will never happen again.    

From the letter: 

“According to the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Governmental Accountability (OPPAGA) report entitled, Ocoee Election Day Violence – November 1920:

On the day of the general election, November 2, 1920, Mose Norman went to the polls to vote but was told that he was not permitted to do so because he had not paid his poll tax. Norman left the polling area and traveled to Orlando to meet with attorney and former judge John Cheney (also the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1920), who recommended that he return to the polling place in Precinct 10 and record the names of anyone who was not permitted to vote and the names of the polling officials who were denying anyone the right to vote. When Mose Norman returned to the polling place, he was again denied the opportunity to vote… Norman went to the home of July Perry before fleeing Ocoee later that day. Later in the day, some white Ocoee residents formed a posse and were deputized by Orange County Sheriff Deputy Clyde Pounds. The posse, led by Ocoee resident Sam Salisbury, a former Army colonel and former Orlando Chief of Police, was charged with arresting July Perry and Mose Norman.…. After additional people and Orange County Sheriff Frank Gordon arrived, the posse captured Perry’s daughter in the house. July Perry was captured in a sugarcane patch near his house and transported to a hospital in Orlando to treat his gunshot wounds. After leaving the hospital, Perry, in the custody of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, was taken by a white mob, lynched by hanging, and shot.”

The letter can be found here:

The proclamation can be found here: