By Roger Caldwell
When this article is published, it may be too early to declare a presidential winner in the for the 2020 election. Or maybe it is very easy to declare a winner because the Democrats or the Republicans have won by such a large exceeding margin. It definitely matters, but systemic or institutional racism will still be a major challenge with very few solutions, and policies after the election.
Everyone in the news media is talking about voter suppression and the intimidation of the election with many White supremacist organizations and groups. In 2020, it would appear that these egregious activities would not take place after 100 years of an Ocoee Massacre in 1920.
The ironic thing about America in 2020, White supremacist organizations are intimidating Black and minorities around the country with guns at certain ballot locations. The more things change in America, the more they stay the same.
On November 2, 1920, Election Day, a White mob attacked and killed 30 - 50 African Americans’ in Ocoee, Florida, because they had worked and registered to vote. “In Orange County, as well as the rest of Florida had been politically dominated by Southern White Democrats, since the end of Reconstruction. But, in the weeks leading up to the presidential election of 1920, African Americans throughout the South were registering to vote in record numbers. During this period, the Ku Klux Klan was having a revival and warned the Black community that not a single African American would be permitted to vote,” from Wikipedia Dictionary.
On Election Day, African Americans were met with resistance, and some Blacks returned with shotguns. The Whites surrounded Julius “July” Perry’s home and he killed two of the deputized members of the mob. Sam Salisbury was a police chief in Orlando, who was injured in the attack on July Perry’s home, and reinforcements from the Ku Klux Klan and other whites in the surrounding area were called in. This larger group burnt down businesses and homes of the Black community in Ocoee Florida, and lynched Mr. Perry.
“After White residents terrorized all the Black residents to leave following the Massacre, Ocoee would remain an all White sundown town, a dangerous place for Black people after dark, until the late 1970, and early 80’s’” says reporter Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel.
Systemic discrimination and racism that everyone in Florida acts as thou it does not exist, and no one wants to talk about it. When Trayvon Martin was killed in Sanford Florida walking down the street in 2012, by a neighborhood watch volunteer, he was found innocent of all charges of murder.
The legacy of lynching is still a reality in 2020. When the police are able to kill a Black Man, George Floyd, and the community is watching, something is fundamentally wrong with the system. When Breonna Taylor is killed by police in her Louisville home, and only one officer is charged with shooting in another apartment, something is wrong.
While more African Americans and people of color have been elected in Central Florida, and around the country, racism is still an issue. Orange County has elected its first Black mayor, Mayor Jerry Demings, and things are changing, but are things moving to slow.
Black Lives Matter – Black Vote Matters – and your vote is your voice. But the questions in this election are -will the Black vote be suppressed, and what happens to racism after the election?
There are more overt White supremacist groups, who are preparing for war, to take their country back.
Today Ocoee looks like any suburban community outside of Orlando, and everyone is always smiling, and wishing you a good day. But 50 years ago if you were Black, you were not allowed in the city after sundown. Racism is still a reality in America, and a smile could still turn into a violent encounter with White people with guns.