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Cayton's monthly. (Seattle, Wash.) 1921-1921, February 01, 1921, Image 15

Image and text provided by Washington State Library; Olympia, WA

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87093354/1921-02-01/ed-1/seq-15/

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women were not allowed to vote though they had fully
qualified in every way. It is these whose affidavits
are being secured.
More serious and more distressing, however, was
the situation found in Orange County where the election
clash at Oco:e occurred. News despatches of Novem
ber 4th told of the killing of six colored men, one by
lynching, and of two white men, when Mose Norman,
a colored man attempted to vote although he had not
registered nor paid his poll tax. The facts, secured on
the spot, reveal an entirely different story. Throe weeks
prior to election the local Ku Klux Klan sent word to
the colored people of Orange County, that no Negroes
would be allowed to vote and that if any Negro tried to
do so, trouble could be expected. Norman refused to
be intimidated. The registration books at Orlando show
that he had qualified and registered. He was unpopular
with the whites because he was too prosperous he
owned an orange grove for which he had refused offers
of $10,000 several times, The prevailing sentiment was
that Norman was too prosperous "for a nigger." When
Norman went to the polls he was overpowered, severe
ly beaten, his gun taken away from him (he had gone
prepared for he knew there were no limits to which
the Ku Klux Klan would not go) and ordered to go home.
He went instead to the home of July Parry, another
colored man, who likewise was unpopular in that he
owned his own home and was foreman of a large orange
grove owned by a Northern white man. The community
felt that the job he had belonged to a white man.
A mob formed, went out and surrounded the colored
settlement, applied kerosene, burned twenty houses,
two churches, a school-house and a lodge hall. Perry
and the other beleaguered Negroes fought desperately.
Two members of the mob were killed and two were
wounded. Perry, with his arm shot away, was taken
to Orlando and placed in jail. Shortly afterwards, a
detachment of the mob went to the county jail, at
Orlondo, to which the sheriff voluntarily turned ovp^
the keys. The mob took Perry just outside the city and
more dead than alive, lynched him.
In the meantime, the colored men, women and child
ren trapped in the burning houses fought desperately
against insurmountable odds. Negroes attempting to
flee were either shot down or forced back into the flames.
The number killed will never be known. I asked a
white citizen of Ocoee who boasted of his participation
in the slaughter how many Negroes died. H ; declared
that fifty-six were known to have been killed —that h<
had killed seventeen "niggers" himself. Almost befort
the embers had died down, eager souvenir hunters
searched like vultures with ghoulish gl :e among the
ruins for the charred bones of the hapless victims.
The effect upon the adult whi c citizens was distressing
enough—an a'r of meritorious work well done —but
more appalling was the at'itude of the children of the
country. When arked about the rioting, and eleven
year old white girl, intelligent and alert, told oxul'irigly
of "the fun we had when some niggers were burned up."
The outlook for a more enlightened generation to come
is indeed unnromising when a lit'le girl can exhibit so
callous an attitude towards such a revolting crime.
And thus the story runs. This and many other
issues of the New R public could be filled with tale
after tale of unbelievable horror —how a wealthy
0 A YTO N'S M ()NTHL V
colored physician of Quinsy was surrounded at the
polls by a mob, members of which spat on his face
and dared him on pain of death to wipa because he
had advised colored citizens to qualify, register and
vote; how in Live Oak two colored business men,
undertakers, merchants and land owners, were, for the
offense beaten into unconsciousness and ordered to
leave homes, property and families; how one of them
has left and the other lies near the point of death from
a paralytic stroke brought on by the beating; how
among those burned alive at Ocoee were a mother
and her two weeks old baby. The examples given are
enough.
The question involved is not simply that of barring
a few Negroos from voting. It involves a condition
which will allow any white man, whether highly intell
igent or densely ignorant owning m,uch property or
abjoctly poor, to vote, while all Negroes are disfranchised
it matters not how intelligent or worthy of the franchise
they may be. This situation is not one which is wholly
sectional but one which is so fundamental that no
citizen of America, North or South, can disregard it.
What is the remedy? The United States Supreme
Court has declared unconstitutional, laws providing for
thT punishment of persons who by threats of violence
.aye prevented citizens from voting. But there are
W(T definite steps which can be taken. First, a com
dete and exhaustive Congressional investigation of the
lections of 1920 should be made. Second, under the
rovisions of Section 19 of Chapter 3 of the Federal
"riminal Code dv-> punishment should be meted out
o those persons who commuted the crimes referred
o above and the many more which a real Congressional
nvestigation would disclos \ The section referred to
s headed, Offenses Against the Elective Franchise and
vivil Rights of Citizens and reads in part:
If two or irore persons conspire to injure, oppress
hreaten or intimidate any citizen in the free exercise
)r enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him
>y *he Constitution or laws of the United States—they
hall be fined not more than five thousand dollars
nd imprisoned not more than ten years, and shall,
noreov-r be thereafter ineligible to any office, or place
f honor, profit or trust created by the Constitution or
aws of the United States.
With this statute is to be coupled the fifteenth
mendinent to the Constitution which reads:
The right of the citizens of the United States to
•ote shall not be denied or abridged by the United
Itatei or any Stati on account of race, color or prev
ous condition of servitude.
Th« tense feeling now existing indicates that
('finite action must be taken at an early date to
correct the monstrous evils underlyin the r^ce nroblem.
Unless they are taken, it is not at all improbable that
onr race riots have just begun.
The South African tree snake, long regarded as
harmless, has ben found to possess a highly active
venom.
The exhaust of an airplane motor is made wholly
inaudible, it is claimed, by a new Swiss manufacture.
WALTER F. WHITE
15

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