By Jonathan Edouard
Florida A&M University (FAMU) Associate Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate College David Jackson, Jr., Ph.D., was recently appointed to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Ocoee Election Day Riots Historical Review and Dedication Committee.
A professor of history, Jackson has written and published books on African Americans in Florida and the violence that took place during the Jim Crow era.
“The purpose of the Committee is to ensure that the victims of the Ocoee Election Day Riots are recognized, so what we are going to do on this committee is evaluate different historical records related to the Ocoee Election Day riots,” Jackson said. “We’re also going to look at ways of memorializing both the victims and survivors of the massacre that took place in 1920.”
The 1920 Ocoee Election Day Massacre was one of the single bloodiest days in American Election Day history. African Americans were erased from the Ocoee area after attempting to exercise their constitutional right to vote. White mobs made sure that the Black vote was a non-factor as the Black population in Ocoee dwindled to below one percent after originally being over 40 percent, Jackson said.
The specter of white mob violence in American politics was on full display on Jan. 6, when thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying results of the 2020 presidential election and overturn the victory of Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. At least five people died as a result of the assault.
Jackson said stepped up Black voting and activism, historically speaking, tends to incite a violent white backlash.
“Because of the threat of Black political participation, white people became very anxious on top of other things, like women gaining the right to vote, and all of the factors converged to culminate in the massacre that occurred in Ocoee,” Jackson said. “The notion of Black people being involved in the political process, especially when their votes can prove determinative, elicits this sort of violent, yet reprehensible, response from certain groups of whites, and even today we should remain cognizant of that fact.”
For more information on the committee and details pertaining to the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Riot email David.firstname.lastname@example.org.