This 1920 Florida Election Ended In A Bloody Massacre

ku klux klan members standing around a burning cross
L. Graciella Maiolatesi
August 11, 2022

The “Godfather” of the Ocoee, FL community, Julius “July” Perry was wealthy, kind, and uplifting. 

But there was one community role in particular that he took very seriously.

Perry vetted any non-Black employers looking to hire Black laborers within the Ocoee community. He knew there were large KKK populations nearby and wanted to ensure his community’s safety.   

This is likely one of the reasons the KKK targeted him during the 1920 election season.

White supremacists did everything to keep Black voters from the polls. A riot ensued which quickly became a massacre

Some Ocoee residents sought refuge at Perry’s estate.

The KKK surrounded Perry’s estate, but his family fought back! They drove the Klan away- but the fight wasn’t over. 

The Klan returned, kidnapped Perry, and violently lynched him in town. His body was left with a sign stating, “ “This is what we do to niggers who try to vote.”

White supremacists were threatened by Perry’s influence over his community. His vetting process was a reminder that we do not need white people in order to live freely, in fact, limiting white access to us is better for our over all communal health and wellness. 

Like Perry, we must vet the non-Black people in our lives and seriously question if they’re contributing to our liberation.

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