In the early 1900's, Orange County much like the rest of the south were dominated by the Southern Democrats in the post-reconstruction era. In the weeks leading up to the Election of 1920, Republican Senate candidate John Moses Cheney organized a voter registration drive targeting disenfranchised
African American voters. In Ocoee, African American landowners Mose Norman and July Perry organized a local registration drive and payed the poll tax for those who could not afford it.
These actions threatened the one-party authoritarian control and in response the newly re-emerging KKK warned African Americans attempting to vote stating “not a single Negro would be permitted to vote.” When election day came around African Americans faced resistance from poll workers and were told they had to
prove their registration by seeing a notary who was often out of town. Norman told the Senate candidate of the push back and was told to collect names of individuals who were illegally prevented from voting and who was preventing them. He then returned to the polling place with a shotgun and while the details of the incident are unknown, we do know that he was driven out of the polling place with his own gun.
The white mob followed Norman to the house of Perry, where they knew he fled to and reached the door asking for a surrender, where they were shot upon in self-defense. After two World War I veterans were killed the white mob called for reinforcements from Orlando, Apopka, and Orange County. In the waiting period an injured Perry attempted to flee to a cane patch where he was found the next morning and arrested. He was treated at the hospital before being transferred to jail. When being transferred, he was taken by the mob and lynched. Norman was never found.
Outside of the lives of Perry and Norman, the reinforcements to the white mob took the conflict to the rest of the African American community where they burned rows of Black houses, forcing the occupants to flee where they were shot. At the end of the night at least 20 buildings had been burned down including all the Black Churches and schoolhouses and an unknown number of people were killed although according to a NAACP study there are estimates with 30 on the low end with other experts believing the death toll went up to 50+.