Let the World Never Forget: Harry T. Moore and Harriet V. Moore

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Today is the start of Black History Month.  It is still amazing how little I know of Black history and how little is taught about Black people in our schools.  NPR featured a story this morning about two early champions of civil rights.  I confess I never heard of Harry T. Moore and Harriet Simms Moore.  I wish they were alive today so that I could tell them how much I admire there efforts and bravery in the face of appalling racism and discrimination.  Sadly, they both died on Christmas eve by a bomb placed in their house which killed both of them.  They were not dead when they were found in the rubble but the local and closest hospital was for “Whites Only” and would not permit them to be treated there.  They died before they could get the thirty miles to the nearest “Black” hospital.

This is from Wikipedia:

Harry Tyson Moore (November 18, 1905 – December 25, 1951) was an African-American educator, a pioneer leader of the civil rights movement, founder of the first branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Brevard County, Florida, and president of the state chapter of the NAACP.

Harry T. Moore and his wife, Harriette Moore, also an educator, were the victims of a bombing of their home in Mims, Florida, on Christmas night 1951.  As the local hospital in Titusville would not treat Blacks, he died on the way to the nearest one that would, a Black hospital in Sanford, Florida, about 30 miles to the northwest.  His wife died from her wounds nine days later, on January 3, 1952, at the same hospital. This followed their both having been fired from teaching because of their activism.

Harry Moore

The murder case was investigated, including by the FBI in 1951–1952, but no one was ever prosecuted. Two more investigations were conducted in the 1970s and 1990s.  A state investigation and forensic work in 2005–2006 resulted in naming the likely perpetrators as four Ku Klux Klan members, all long dead by that time.  Harry T. Moore was the first NAACP member and official to be assassinated for civil rights activism; the couple are the only husband and wife to be killed for the movement.  Moore has been called the first martyr of this stage of the civil rights movement that expanded in the 1960s.

  • Langston Hughes wrote, and read publicly, the poem “The Ballad of Harry Moore”, written posthumously in Moore’s honor:

Florida means land of flowers
It was on a Christmas night.
In the state named for the flowers
Men came bearing dynamite …
It could not be in Jesus’ name
Beneath the bedroom floor
On Christmas night the killers
Hid the bomb for Harry Moore.

For more information on the life of Harry and Harriet, you might look up the following books:

The Bomb Heard Around the World: The Lives and Deaths of Harry T & Harriette V Moore

by Gregory Marquette | May 1, 2019

Before His Time: The Untold Story of Harry T. Moore, America’s First Civil Rights Martyr

by Ben Green  | Dec 19, 2017

Before Selma: The Harry T. Moore Story

by DR Florence Alexander | Jan 22, 2015

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jjeanine
    Feb 03, 2022 @ 17:40:14

    It is hard to imagine the depth of hatred a man could have for another who had shown no animosity, nor malice toward them. They are the devil incarnate. I take comfort in believing that there is a hell, and since the low lives that committed the crime did not pay for it in this world, I do hope they are burning in the next one.

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  2. jennygirl1278
    Feb 03, 2022 @ 17:41:23

    It is hard to imagine the depth of hatred a man could have for another who had shown no animosity, nor malice toward them. They are the devil incarnate. I take comfort in believing that there is a hell, and since the low lives that committed the crime did not pay for it in this world, I do hope they are burning in the next one.

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    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Feb 07, 2022 @ 13:09:26

      Thanks Jeanine for the comment. I agree. My one desire is that there is a hell for the people that hate another so much because of their race or religion that they will murder them.

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  3. nancykkkkk
    Feb 07, 2022 @ 11:57:35

    John – thanks for this post and history lesson. Unfortunately, with the scourge of book bannings and hysteria about teach ‘real’ American history, our children and grandchildren may never know these stories. N

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    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Feb 07, 2022 @ 13:07:25

      True, if we let the bigots and xenophobes have their way. Thanks for the comment. I hope we can prevent a total blackout on history. John

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      Reply

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