REPORT: Black History Instruction Gets New Emphasis in Many States
Through his high school years in Orlando in the 1990s, Florida state Sen. Randolph Bracy never heard a word about a massacre seven decades earlier that took place on Election Day just 15 minutes away in Ocoee.
Only later did he learn the story: In 1920, an affluent Black man showed up to vote for president in the tiny town after the Ku Klux Klan warned Black voters not to go to the polls. Inspired by the Klan, angry locals rioted and set fire to homes, churches and other buildings owned by Black residents. The precise death toll is in dispute, but some historians say as many as 60 Black people were killed.
For decades afterward, Black locals would not set foot in Ocoee after sundown unless they had to be there for work, said Bracy, 43, a Democrat who is Black and lives in Ocoee.
“It’s still not something that people talk about,” he said in an interview.