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‘If You Truly Want To Honor Your Ancestors, Vote’- Orange County Honors Descendants Of Ocoee Massacre

Jacqueline Perry Blalock. Photo: Orange County

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Orange County has declared November 2nd ‘Descendants of the Ocoee Massacre: Honoring Their Ancestors Day.” 

The 1920 Election Day massacre began when Black residents of Ocoee tried to vote. A white mob killed residents, burning their homes and churches and driving the survivors from the city. 

County leaders honored the descendants of the victims with a ceremony outside the Orange County History Center Monday morning. J. Carl Devine’s grandparents, John and Roxie Williams, were among the residents who fled Ocoee. 

“Most of my life, growing up I heard about Ocoee. They never got over the fact that people ran them off their property and took their land from them,” said Devine.

“I appreciate the celebration. I appreciate the commemoration. But let’s not forget the reparation.”

Jacqueline Perry Blalock is the great niece of Julius ‘July’ Perry, who was lynched. She said Perry fought and died to exercise his right to vote.  

“If you truly, truly, want to honor your ancestors, vote. Vote in your county elections, your city elections, your local government elections. And more importantly, the national elections.” 

Orange County mayor Jerry Demings said the sacrifices of those Ocoee residents who tried to exercise their right to vote paved the way for elected officials like him to break new barriers as the county’s first African American mayor.

“And now, here we are, 100 years later, on November 2nd, 2020, the day before an election that could change the trajectory of our entire nation, in honor of those who fought and lost life and limb for this very moment,” said Demings.

The city of Ocoee will unveil a marker for the victims of the massacre this weekend. 

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Matt Peddie