Mabel Norris Reese: Fearless Voice for Truth
March 18, 2021, noon, via Zoom
The Orange County Regional History presents its second annual Women’s History Month Celebration with an online program honoring Mabel Norris Reese (1914-1995), a determined Central Florida journalist who fought for justice and took on the Ku Klux Klan in a segregated Florida.
Titled “Mabel Norris Reese: Fearless Voice for Truth,” the program will highlight Reese’s career at the helm of the Mount Dora Topic, a small weekly newspaper in Lake County, as she investigated the case of the Groveland Four and other instances of grave injustice. She withstood violent threats, including the firebombing of her home, in her efforts to present the truth and expose her powerful opponents.
In 2018, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gilbert King brought renewed attention to Reese in his book Beneath a Ruthless Sun: A True Story of Violence, Race, and Justice Lost and Found, which followed Devil in the Grove, about the Groveland case. Speakers include longtime journalists Laureen Ritchie and Jackie Brockington; Pam Schwartz of the History Center; Gary McKechnie, who has led the effort to honor Reese through sculpture in Mount Dora; and Orange County League of Women Voters Co-President Gloria Pickar.
Presented in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Orange County, the online program follows last year’s inaugural Women’s History Month Breakfast, which honored Mary McLeod Bethune, educator and civil rights activist. In addition to highlighting the significance of women’s contributions to history, the program also underlines the importance of determined local journalists in defending democracy.
Tickets are $25 and benefit the Historical Society of Central Florida.