On the night of the 1920 election, the Bells, a Black family in Ocoee, Florida, heard that the Ku Klux Klan planned to incite violence in the town. They quickly decided to follow through with a desperate plan: The children would navigate the thick, swampy woods around Ocoee alone and meet their parents in a church in a neighboring town. With gunshots and flames in the distance, 18-year-old Allen Bell guided his six younger siblings through the wet brush while praying the group wouldn’t encounter snakes, alligators, or the KKK.
Before the family departed, Bell’s father ordered him to stay out of sight of any white man. “If they see you, they’ll kill you,” he warned. By the next day, their