Harry Tyson Moore (November 18, 1905 – December 25, 1951) was an African-American teacher, founder of the first branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Brevard County, Florida, and a pioneer leader of the civil rights movement in Florida and the southern United States.
Harry T. Moore and his wife, Harriette Vyda Simms Moore, were killed by Ku Klux Klan sneak-attack bombers who blew up the Moores’ home on Christmas night 1951. The Moores were the first NAACP members to be murdered for their civil rights activism; Moore has been called the first martyr of the 1950s-era civil rights movement.
Harry T. Moore grew up in an age when lynchings were commonplace, and condoned by white authorities. Showing great courage, Moore committed himself to fighting against lynchings, even at the risk of his own life.
By 1930, four thousand blacks had been lynched nationwide by white mobs, vigilantes, or the Klan. Most of these occurred in the Deep South, many with law enforcement complicity. And while Alabama and Mississippi had more total lynchings, it was Florida, surprisingly, that had the highest per capita rate of lynching from 1900-1930.
One of the most notorious lynchings in U.S. history occurred in Marianna, Florida – some two hundred miles from where Harry Moore grew up. The lynching of Claude Neal was the last of the so-called spectacle lynchings.
On Christmas night 1951, Harry T. Moore and his wife Harriette retired to bed in their white frame house tucked inside a small orange grove in Mims, Florida. Ten minutes later, a bomb shattered their house, their lives, and any notions that the South’s post-war transition to racial equality would be a smooth one. Harry Moore died that night, his wife nine days later.
Harry T. Moore paved the way for the ‘60s civil rights movement by championing equal pay for black teachers, organizing the black vote and publicly condemning racist attitudes and actions of local, state and national officials.
Despite a massive FBI investigation and repeated inquisitions, the murders of Harry and Harriette Moore have never been solved.