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ThaWilsonBlock Magazine Issue58 (December 2017)

Who was Harry Tyson Moore?

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

Harry T. Moore and his wife, Harriette Vyda Simms Moore, also an educator, were the victims of a bombing of their home in Mims, Florida on Christmas night 1951. He died in an ambulance on the way to a hospital in Seminole County while she died January 3, 1952, at the hospital in Sanford, Florida. Forensic work in 2005-6 resulted in the naming of the probable perpetrators as four Ku Klux Klan members, all long dead by the time of the investigation. The Moores were the first NAACP members to be murdered for civil rights activism; Moore has been called the first martyr of the early stage of the Civil Rights Movement.

In the early 1930s, Moore had become state secretary for the Florida chapter of the NAACP. Through his registration activities, he greatly increased the number of members, and he worked on issues of housing and education. He investigated lynchings, filed lawsuits against voter registration barriers and white primaries, and worked for equal pay for black teachers in public schools.

Moore also led the Progressive Voters League. Following a 1944 US Supreme Court ruling against white primaries, between 1944 and 1950, he succeeded in increasing the registration of black voters in Florida to 31 percent of those eligible to vote, markedly higher than in any other Southern state. In 1946, he and his wife were fired from the public school system because of his activism, and he then worked full-time for the NAACP.



Learn more about Harry Tyson Moore...

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