Florida A&M’s dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research, David Jackson, was recently appointed to serve as an official member of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Ocoee Election Day Riots Historical Review and Dedication Committee.
The infamous Ocoee Massacre took place on Nov. 2, 1920, lasting until Nov. 3 — the same day as the U.S presidential election. The massacre centered on African Americans being involved in the political process and attempting to vote for former president Warren G. Harding.
More than 50 African Americans in Ocoee, Florida were mercilessly murdered while attempting to cast their vote on election day. This brutal event is still considered one of the largest incidents of election day violence in the United States. Black voters were being turned away by threats and by poll workers who found their names absent from the voter registration roles. White enforcers camped out while poll workers were given instructions to distract their attempts.
Jackson was appointed to this position based on his expertise as a professor in African American studies coupled with the fact that Jackson studied Florida during the Jim Crow era. His research overlaps with the time period. Jackson has also served on other commissions such as the Florida Historical Commission and the National Register Review Board. Most recently Jackson served as the historian for the Dozier School for Boys investigation.
Jackson was asked to serve on the committee and explains that he was elated to be of service to the state of Florida.
“One of our responsibilities at Florida A&M is to provide service and to make sure people are at the table when discussions like these are taking place about subjects that no one knows about,” Jackson said.
Daja Jackson spoke about her father’s commitment to FAMU and how proud she is of her father’s achievements.
“I have not met anyone who loves FAMU as much as my dad. He has encouraged both me and my brother to attend this school. He even met my mother here over 30 years ago. He without a doubt bleeds orange and green,” Deja said.
Feb. 1 will be the first official meeting of the DEP, and while serving as a committee member on the board, Jackson will be responsible for evaluating historical information, identifying state parks and or facilities to rename after victims of the 1920 massacre.