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  • Writer's pictureNia Clark

S2 E3 3 Years Before the Rosewood Massacre: the Deadliest Election Day in U.S. History


Exactly 100 years ago, what is known as the bloodiest election day in American history left a grave and everlasting stain on Florida’s history. On Election Day 1920, a number of Black residents who lived in the town of Ocoee, Florida attempted to vote and were turned away. They included a man named Moses Norman who became very angry. Norman was one of the most prosperous Black men in the Orange County community. Some accounts suggest that Norman went to the home of his friend July Perry - another prominent Black entrepreneur in town, to tell Perry what happened. That evening, a mob of armed white men came to Perry’s home in search of Norman. Shooting broke out. Perry was captured and lynched. The mob turned its ire on Ocoee’s Black population. An unknown number of innocent African Americans were targeted and killed. Their homes and property were set on fire before burning to the ground. Most African Americans fled Ocoee and never to returned. But Ocoee is not the only place blood was spilled in Florida on Election Day of 1920.

Beginning in 1919, a massive voter registration drive aimed at politically enfranchising Florida’s black community was underway. Many Blacks had planned to reap the fruits of their labor by casting their ballots on November 2nd of that year. Eventually, the voter registration movement spread to more than half of Florida's counties. Democrats - and particularly the Ku Klux Klan, became alarmed and viewed the movement as a threat to white supremacy in the south and launched their own repressive tactics to thwart the movement. That didn't stop thousands of African Americans from attempting to vote on November of that  Hundreds were turned away from the polls. Aside from Ocoee African Americans in Gadsden, Manatee and Liberty counties.

In this episode, guests will hear an account of the Ocoee Massacre given by The Orlando Guy. Pamela Schwartz, Chief Curator of the Orange County Regional History Center will lend her expertise to help fill in some missing pieces to the puzzle of that tragic day.

“Just a couple of days before the election the KKK had marched about 500 strong through the streets of Orlando and other places: Daytona, Jacksonville. Basically attempting to threaten and scare Black people specifically, basically scare them or threaten them out of going and casting their vote ." ~Orange County Regional History Center Chief Curator Pamela Schwartz

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Pamela Schwartz

The Orlando Guy

Musical attributions 1. Artist/Title: Axletree - Window Sparrows Licenses: Attribution 4.0 International URL:

2 Artist/Title: Lobo Loco - Place on my Bonfire (ID 1170) Licenses: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) URL:

3. Artist/Title: Youssoupha Sidibe - Xaleyi Licenses: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US) URL:

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