Brevard’s Harry and Harriette Moore Among First Activists of the Modern Civil Rights Era in Florida
By Space Coast Daily // February 22, 2021
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
BREVARD COUNTY, MIMS, FLORIDA – Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore were leading civil rights activists in Florida and the nation during the 1930s and 40s.
The couple were educators by profession and lived in Mims, Florida, at that time a small citrus town and taught in segregated public schools in and around Brevard County from 1925 to 1946.
The Moores were among the first true civil rights activist of the modern civil rights era in Florida. On Christmas night 1951 on Moore’s 25th wedding anniversary, a bomb exploded under their Mims home killing Harry Moore and fatally injuring Harriette Moore.
Harry died on the way to the hospital and Harriette died January 3, 1952, two days after Harry’s funeral.
It was the first killing of a prominent civil rights leader and is believed to be the spark that ignited the American civil rights movement.
During their lifetimes, the Moores were concerned parents and educators and became leading local and national civil rights activists.
Harry Moore organized the first Brevard County Branch of the NAACP in 1934. He organized this branch focusing initially on social and educational activities. This built the NAACP’s visibility without scaring off local blacks or upsetting whites.
In 1941, he established the Florida State Conference of NAACP serving as President and later becoming its first paid Executive Secretary. They remained instrumental in the NAACP and the fight for equality and justice until their untimely deaths.
In 1944, Harry. Moore co-founded the Progressive Voting League, and through the efforts of this organization over 116,000 black citizens were registered to vote.
A replica of their home now stands in place on the very site of the original home. The interior is designed to look the same way it did on that tragic day of the bombing.
The location of the original Moore family home site was purchased by Brevard County in 1994, and the Cultural Center was dedicated in April 2004.
The Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Cultural Complex, Inc., was organized in 2002 as a non-profit support organization for the park. It is through their efforts that $100,000 grant funding was secured from the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, to assist in the construction of the replica house.
A grant in the amount of $500,000 from the Florida Department of State Bureau of Historic Preservation was received for the reflecting pool, fountain, meditation garden, and gazebo, heritage walking trail and community pavilion.
In 2007, the Florida Humanities Council recognized Harry T. Moore as one of the “Great Floridians” and ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held: Home Replica November 22, 2009; Reflecting Pool, fountain, meditation garden and gazebo August 20, 2011; Community pavilion/heritage walking trail and dedication of a portion of Hwy 46 as the Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Memorial Highway by an act of the Florida Legislature August 24, 2012.
In 2013, the Cocoa Village Post Office was renamed the Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Post Office.
In 2013, Moore family artifacts were transferred to the Smithsonian Museum to become part of the new Harry T. Moore exhibit on display in the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.
The Moore’s were inducted into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame in Tallahassee.
Tours are offered daily at the complex in the replica house, located at 2180 Freedom Avenue and each tour lasts approximately 45 minutes.
For more information log on to HarryHarrietteMoore.org or call 321-264-6595.