by James Schmidt, CMC Coordinator
The Civic Media Center will screen the documentary film “Freedom Never Dies: The Legacy of Harry T. Moore,” on Monday, Dec. 5, at 7pm as part of its Monday movie series. Dec. 25 will mark the 60th anniversary of the bombing that claimed the lives of Harry Moore and his wife.
In 1951, after celebrating Christmas Day with their family, civil rights activist Harry T. Moore and his wife Harriette retired to bed in their house in Mims, Fla. Ten minutes later, a bomb hidden under the floorboards beneath their bed shattered their house, their bodies, and the “moonlight and magnolias” fiction of the segregation-era South in Florida.
Harry Moore died on the way to the hospital, and Harriette died nine days later. “Freedom Never Dies” tells the story of Moore and his family on film for the first time and, in doing so, uncovers a tragically hidden and suppressed, but tremendously important, piece of Florida history.
Harry Moore was an organizer and staffer for the NAACP in Florida. He founded the first branch of that organization in Brevard County and eventually served as the secretary for the statewide organization. As an NAACP staffer and as leader of the Progressive Voters League, Moore organized voting drives that successfully registered over 100,000 African Americans to vote in Florida, a huge increase in the number of black voters and 51 percent higher than the proportion of blacks registered to vote in any other Southern state.
This would have been a fantastic accomplishment for any organizer at any time in history, but given that most of Florida (in the 1930s through 1950s when Moore was working) was about as deep as you could get in the segregated “Deep South,” with a violent white supremacist culture holding sway from the swamp savannahs to the highest offices of the land, the success of his voter registration drives must be seen as nothing less than heroic. Throughout his life, Harry Moore spoke out in public and in print, in meetings and church services, in letters to newspapers, magazines and public officials, and by every other means at his disposal, against the injustices that blacks endured, from lynching to employment discrimination to the scourge of taxation without representation via the institutional racism and grassroots terrorism that kept black people locked out of the political process.
For his audacity in giving loud voice to the righteous anger and frustration of his community, and for his persistence in his mission, the racist white power structure of Florida determined to silence him, one way or another.
Though no one has ever been convicted of the Moores’ murders, evidence unearthed in recent years points to what was long rumored and conjectured, a conspiracy by members of the Central Florida Klavern of the Ku Klux Klan.
The CMC invites you to please join us in honoring the legacy of Harry and Harriette Moore, and learn more about the amazing accomplishments of a fearless, tireless organizer who stood up to white supremacy in Jim Crow Florida, and paid the ultimate price for his disciplined, unwavering fight for the liberty and dignity of his people. Come learn more about the man who has been called the first Civil Rights Movement martyr.
In recent years, the state of Florida and Brevard County, where the Moores lived and worked, have finally begun to honor their historic legacy by creating the Harry T. and Harriette Moore Memorial Park and Interpretive Center at the homesite in Mims. Through the park, this film, and the efforts of journalists and authors (including our own Stetson Kennedy, who never stopped trying to uncover the truth about the bombing), Floridians have started down the long path to raising public awareness of Harry Moore’s achievements and restoring their story to its rightful place in our state’s history.