Alliance for Truth and Justice
Acknowledging the shadow of our racial past, liberating our communities to heal. AJT began in 2015 with a small group of community-minded leaders. Our numbers have since expanded as we continue this courageous conversation. We are proud to serve as the genesis for the first-ever major exhibition on the Ocoee Massacre, opening October 2020 at the Orange County Regional History Center marking the 100th year anniversary as what has been termed “the bloodiest day in American political history”. There is more to explore.
We aim to facilitate a new era of race relations from the ground up - through research, educational forums, exhibitions, historical markers and commemorative soil collections. We partner with the Equal Justice Initiative’s Community Remembrance Project. We believe when we own and share the truth of our history of racial injustice, our community will recognize, remember and repair the harm for generations to come.
Alliance for Truth and Justice
Orange County, FL
Accomplishments as of November 2020
- Developed a storyline for the 1920 Ocoee Massacre
- Developed a bibliography for the 1920 Ocoee Massacre
- Established vision and mission statements along with guiding principles for the Task Force
- Engaged in five radio shows, including one with the Wise Guys and March/April 2019 shows on WMFE with members of the Memphis-based Lynching Sites Project: WMFE –Intersection (March 12, 2019; interviews with John Ashworth and Dr. Margaret Vandiver from Memphis and Joy Dickinson from TJP) and WMFE-Friends (March 26, 2019; interviews with Dr. Timothy Huebner and John Reyer from Memphis and Harry Coverston from TJP)
- Engaged twenty TJP members in the EJI Montgomery conference and opening of their museums
- Enlisted the support of 47 community members to request an exhibition on the Ocoee Massacre at the Orange County Regional History Center (OCRHC)
- Secured an exhibition on the Ocoee Massacre in 2020 at OCRHC
- Raised over $5,000 on a GoFundMe site for TJP work
- Partnered with the Farmworkers Association of Florida, which is now TJP’s fiscal agent
- Coordinated EJI scholarships in the amount of $5,000 for Boone, Evans, Jones, and Ocoee high schools
- Collected soil at lynching sites in September, October, and November 2018.
- Publicized our soil collection with a Willie J. Allen Jr. photograph of our work in EJI’s 2019 calendar
- Partnered with Valencia State College’s Peace and Justice Institute in eight community forums (funded by the Florida Humanities Council) to educate the public on the Ocoee Massacre and its continuing history
- Partnered with Valencia State College’s Peace and Justice Institute in a July 11, 2018 culminating event to discuss future directions to further race relations in our region, eventually engaging over 700 people in our 2018 series
- Documented our work with professional photographers and filmmakers
- Secured a commitment from the City of Ocoee to place an EJI marker for in their downtown with a ceremony in November 2020 marking the 100th year anniversary of the Ocoee Massacre
- Confirmed the July Perry marker unveiling date for Friday, June 21 with the City of Orlando and EJI along with a community-wide Bryan Stevenson address with final approvals in process
- Engaged in ongoing research about Arthur Henry and Melvin Womack lynchings in Oakland as well as research on Apopka’s Whipping Post
- Proposed a city-wide collaboration of arts groups that will address lynchings and race relations in 2020 (coordinated by Pam Schwartz of OCRHC)
- Partnered with Valencia State College’s Peace and Justice Institute on their September 25, 2018 Daryl Davis presentation
- Participated in panel discussions with the 2018 Global Peace Film Festival
- Met with Groveland’s City Manager Mike Hein on ways to partner/share information in his quest to memorialize the Groveland Four
- Met with Executive Director John Ashworth and chief researcher Dr. Margaret Vandiver of The Lynching Sites Project of Memphis (October 21, 2018) that led to a fundraising event, a panel discussion and screening of The Yard, at First Unitarian Church in Orlando on March 7, 2019.
- Partnered with the League of Women Voters/Orange County for the February 13, 2019 Hot Topics presentation/discussion on the 1920 Ocoee Massacre
- Explored prototypes for bringing key elements of the Brooklyn Museum’s Legacy of Lynching exhibition to OCRHC in 2020
- Supported Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer with the transport of soil from our July Perry soil collection for his visit to EJI/Montgomery
- Began work on our website with RICHES
- Produced TJP banners
- Developed a logo, letterhead, and a card with social media information on it
- Developed a brochure about TJP and the Ocoee Massacre
- Developing short digital stories with UCF history students
- Working with RICHES and OCRHC on oral histories of surviving family members of the Ocoee Massacre
- Presenting partner in the film screening of Icabod Flewellen: Father of the African American Museum on September 22, 2019 in Orlando.
- Developed a website on the Ocoee Massacre at: ocoeemassacre.com
- Created a series of video clips on the theme, “Together: Looking Back, Moving Forward” with EYESEEIMAGES
- Presented the program “Together: Looking Back, Moving Forward” in Ocoee on November 6, 2020 complete with an interfaith service.
- Made an official request to the Orlando Museum of Art to consider applying for a Mellon Foundation grant (Monuments Program/pool of $250) to underwrite an Ocoee memorial monument to be commissioned by sculpturer Brian Owens. Over 40 community leaders, including Orlando Commissioner Patty Sheehan and former Orange County Mayor Linda Chapin, signed our letter.
- Began due diligence on the Mizell family history as it would relate to a Witness Stone Project for our community documenting past (and largely unknown) slave ownership history.
- Welcomed these new community partners: Iota Phi Theta Fraternity (Orlando Chapter), UCF RICHES Program, and the First Unitarian Church of Orlando. (These partnerships are added to our other partnerships: Equal Justice Initiative (EJI): Peace and Justice Institute, Valencia State College (PJI); Hannibal Square Heritage Center, and Bridge the Gap Coalition)
- Engaged in a radio show to promote the July 21, 2019 July Perry marker ceremony: https://video.wucftv.org/video/bullying-in-the-tsa-the-ocoee- massacre- and-bike-safety-ybjkh1/
- Featured in four 2018 Orlando Sentinel articles by Steve Hudak: Nov 6/Election Day “Ceremony marks sacrifice of Perry, black voter rights” Local and State, Page B1
Nov 20/”Dawn of a New Day” – (Announcement: Ocoee City Hall Proclamation) - Front Page, A1
Nov 22/ “Ocoee renounces racist past, promises harmony and justice” – Local and State, B1
April 9, 2019/”Ocoee attack marker planned”—Front Page, A1
May 10, 2019/”Groveland Four defendant Samuel Shepherd, four other Central Florida victims of racial terror commemorated on new monument at national lynching memorial”—Front Page, A1
Our all-volunteer group was formed in 2015 shortly after the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) published Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror. Orange County, Florida, was noted to be the worst county in the South, per capita, for lynchings between 1877 and 1950. While the number of reported deaths differs widely, EJI listed 33 lynchings in Orange County with 32 related to the 1920 Ocoee Massacre. In response, the Alliance for Truth and Justice (previously under other names) partnered with Valencia State College’s Peace and Justice Institute to educate the public about our violent history. In June 2019 the first Orange County EJI marker was placed in Heritage Square in Orlando. Our partnership work continues, most importantly with the Ocoee Human Relations Diversity Board that will memorialize the Ocoee Massacre on its centennial. We have participated in radio shows and media interviews, television programs, and numerous community discussion forums. Our Orange County Regional History Center is currently curating an exhibition on the Massacre. We hope our efforts can serve as a model for others to heal from the past and move toward a better racial future.
We proudly follow James Baldwin’s statement: “ Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced”.
National Museum of Peace and Justice (EJI), Montgomery, Al