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.
   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,
   81  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   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.