Carlee Hoffmann


On the morning of November 2, 1920, Moses Norman went to the polls in his hometown of Ocoee, Florida, to cast his ballot. Norman was a prominent black man in the small community, owning property that included a productive citrus grove. When he tried to vote, the poll workers turned him away and told him to go home, claiming that he had not properly registered or paid his poll tax. Norman then drove the thirteen miles to Orlando, where he met with John M. Cheney, a prominent Orlando lawyer, Republican candidate for the United States Senate, and trustee of Rollins College. Cheney counseled Norman to return to Ocoee and demand to vote because it was his constitutional right. When he tried this later in the day, an altercation ensued between Norman and some of the workers. Accounts vary. Some say Norman brought his gun with him when he confronted the workers; others claim that white citizens of Ocoee searched Norman's car and found the gun. Regardless, Norman was again denied his vote and told to go home, after which he instead left for the home of his friend July Perry. Perry was another prosperous black man in Ocoee, employed as boss of a labor gang.