The Time White People Burned and Pillaged a Black Community on Election Day
The 1920 massacre in Ocoee, Florida, involved whites lynching, castrating, and removing hundreds of blacks from their land in retaliation for them trying to exercise their right to vote.
Election Day 1920 gave us one of the most violent, horrific stories in the history of American democracy. And unfortunately, despite the lives lost and the unimaginable racism that precipitated the carnage, it’s a tale that has largely been left untold.
It all happened in Ocoee, Florida, on November 2, when wealthy, landowning blacks within the rural community wanted to cast their ballots in the election between Warren G. Harding and James M. Cox. The violence began with a white lynch mob hanging one black man, and it culminated with an even larger mob terrorizing and torching the homes of an entire community of blacks. In the end, some historians estimate that as many as 500 blacks were forced from their homes. These people ran for their lives after being given an ultimatum: die or flee. Today, this bloody snapshot of American history is referred to as the Ocoee Massacre.