Florida Senate - 2020 CS for CS for SB 1262 By the Committees on Appropriations; and Judiciary; and Senators Bracy and Rodriguez 576-04298-20 20201262c2 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots; 3 directing the Commissioner of Education’s African 4 American History Task Force to determine ways in which 5 the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots may be included in 6 required instruction on African-American history; 7 requiring the task force to submit recommendations to 8 the commissioner and the State Board of Education by a 9 specified date; directing the Secretary of State to 10 take certain action regarding the inclusion of the 11 history of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots in museum 12 exhibits; directing the Secretary of Environmental 13 Protection to assess naming opportunities for state 14 parks, or a portion of a facility therein, in 15 recognizing victims of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day 16 Riots; authorizing the secretary to appoint a 17 committee to assist in assessing naming opportunities; 18 requiring the secretary to submit recommendations to 19 the Legislature under specified circumstances; 20 encouraging district school boards to assess naming 21 opportunities for school facilities in recognizing 22 victims of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots; 23 providing an effective date. 24 25 WHEREAS, in the decades following the conclusion of 26 Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws were enacted throughout the 27 southern United States, including Florida, which mandated 28 segregation and imposed numerous restrictions, such as the 29 imposition of poll taxes and literacy requirements, thereby 30 suppressing the ability of African Americans to participate in 31 the democratic process, and 32 WHEREAS, throughout the country, organizations such as the 33 Ku Klux Klan staged rallies, marches, and other demonstrations 34 in an effort to intimidate African Americans and any allies from 35 organizing and attempting to exercise the right to vote, and 36 WHEREAS, as the 1920 presidential election approached, 37 efforts were undertaken in Orange County by numerous 38 organizations and individuals, including Judge John M. Cheney 39 and two prominent African-American residents of Ocoee, Julius 40 “July” Perry and Moses Norman, to register African-American 41 voters to allow for their participation in the upcoming 42 election, and 43 WHEREAS, on November 2, 1920, as several African Americans 44 in Ocoee, including Moses Norman, unsuccessfully attempted to 45 vote on Election Day, violence ensued as a mob of approximately 46 100 white men formed and marched to Julius “July” Perry’s 47 residence, and proceeded to open gunfire as Julius “July” Perry 48 attempted to defend himself along with his property and family, 49 and 50 WHEREAS, after the Perry family eventually fled the 51 residence, Julius “July” Perry was soon arrested and 52 subsequently shot and lynched after the mob gained access to his 53 jail cell with the aid of local law enforcement, and 54 WHEREAS, the violence spread throughout the African 55 American community of Ocoee and upwards of 60 people are 56 estimated to have perished while dozens of homes, two churches, 57 and a lodge meeting hall were set ablaze and gunfire overtook 58 the community, and 59 WHEREAS, in the aftermath of the riots, nearly all African 60 American residents of the community were forced to flee, 61 abandoning their residences and property and relocating 62 elsewhere, and 63 WHEREAS, there is no record that state or local government 64 officials took any action to prevent the tragedy that occurred 65 in Ocoee, or reasonably investigated the matter in the riot’s 66 aftermath in an effort to bring the perpetrators of the incident 67 to justice or to allow the displaced African-American residents 68 to return to their homes and property, and 69 WHEREAS, in November 2018, the Ocoee City Commission 70 adopted a proclamation that acknowledged the acts of domestic 71 terror inflicted upon the African-American residents of Ocoee 72 and western Orange County on November 2, 1920, and required the 73 installation of a historical marker in a public space describing 74 the events of that day, and 75 WHEREAS, the Florida Legislature recognizes an obligation 76 to acknowledge the injuries, damages, infringement of civil 77 rights, and loss of life that African-American residents 78 sustained as a result of the violence and destruction that 79 occurred in Ocoee in November 1920, NOW, THEREFORE, 80 81 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 82 83 Section 1. The Commissioner of Education’s African American 84 History Task Force is directed to examine ways in which the 85 history of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots may be included in 86 instruction on African-American history required pursuant to s. 87 1003.42(2)(h), Florida Statutes. The task force shall submit its 88 recommendations to the Commissioner of Education and the State 89 Board of Education by March 1, 2021. 90 Section 2. The Secretary of State is directed to: 91 (1) In coordination with the Division of Cultural Affairs 92 of the Department of State, determine ways in which the Museum 93 of Florida History and other state museums may promote the 94 history of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots through exhibits 95 and educational programs. 96 (2) Collaborate with the National Museum of African 97 American History and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution to 98 seek inclusion of the history of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day 99 Riots in the museum’s exhibits. 100 Section 3. The Secretary of Environmental Protection is 101 directed to assess if any state park, or a portion of or a 102 facility therein, may be named in recognition of any victim of 103 the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots. The secretary may appoint a 104 committee to assess naming opportunities. If a change to state 105 law is required in order to change the designation of a state 106 park, or a portion of or a facility therein, the secretary shall 107 submit any such recommendation to the President of the Senate 108 and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. 109 Section 4. District school boards are encouraged to assess 110 naming opportunities for school facilities in recognition of 111 victims of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riots. 112 Section 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2020.