OCOEE, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – George Oliver, III broke the color line on election night by defeating four-term incumbent Joel F. Keller to become the first-ever African American elected to Ocoee city commission.
Oliver ran against Commissioner Keller in 2015, but lost by 20 votes.
Unofficial figures from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections showed Oliver won 52.94% of the votes.
Incumbent Rosemary Wilsen won re-election by defeating challenger Robert Rivera by 75.10% of the votes to retain her seat on Ocoee city commission.
Why Oliver’s Election Win In Ocoee Historic?
The Ocoee massacre considered the “single bloodiest day in American political history,” was violent race riot that broke out on November 2, 1920. African-American-owned buildings and residences in northern Ocoee, a city in Orange County, Florida, were burned to the ground. The African-Americans residing in Ocoee who were not direct victims of the race riot were later driven out by threats or force.
The race riot was started as a white mob’s response to the persistence of Mose Norman, an African American, to vote on election day. Mose Norman was ordered and driven away when he first attempted to go to the polls. When he came back to the polls later he was driven away again by whites, who would later form a mob to search for him.
The white mob then surrounded the home of Julius “July” Perry, a prosperous local African-American farmer and contractor, where it was believed Norman was taking refuge. After Perry drove away the white mob with gunshots, the mob called for reinforcements from Orlando and Orange County, who then laid waste to the African-American community in Ocoee and eventually killed Perry. Norman would escape, never to be found. Other African Americans would flee into the orange groves, swamps and neighboring towns, leaving behind their homes and possessions.