Harry Moore | Civil Rights Leader

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Harry Moore (November 18, 1905 – December 25, 1951) Married to Harriette Vyda Simms Moore was an educator and civil rights leader. He was also the founder of the first branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Brevard County, Florida.

The Moores were the first NAACP members to be murdered for civil rights activism. Harry T. Moore and his wife, Harriette Vyda Simms Moore, also a teacher, were killed in a bombing of their home on Christmas night 1951.

During His Term as state secretary for the Florida chapter of the NAACP, Harry Moore Through his registration activities, greatly increased the number of members and he worked on issues such as:

  • housing and education
  • Investigated lynchings
  • Fought against voter registration barriers and white primaries
  • worked for equal pay for black teachers in public schools

Harry Moore

  • Harry Moore also led the Progressive Voters’ League voter registration drives that succeeded in registering 116,000 black people, 31 percent of those eligible to vote in Florida. (51 percent higher than the proportion of blacks registered to vote in any other southern state.)



  • In 1941, Moore was named president of Florida’s NAACP. In 1944 the NAACP won a major victory when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Smith v. Allwright that the Democratic Party’s all-white primary in Texas and other states was unconstitutional.
  •  As Executive Director of the Florida NAACP Harry T. Moore organized a campaign against what he saw as the wrongful convictions of the three men in the Groveland Case. With NAACP support, appeals were pursued. In April 1951 a legal team headed by Thurgood Marshall won the appeal of Shepherd and Irvin’s convictions before the U.S. Supreme Court. A new trial was scheduled.
Harry Moore

Harry T. Moore and his wife Harriette Vyda Simms Moore

He was the first NAACP official murdered in the civil rights struggle. The murders caused a national and international outcry, with protests registered at the United Nations against violence in the South. The NAACP held a huge rally in New York, where the renowned poet Langston Hughes read a poem written in memory of Moore.

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