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Harry Tyson Moore

(1905–1951)

NAACP Florida Leader

He was an African-American Civil rights leader and Activist, Educator, and 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 began his career as a teacher in Brevard County, Florida, where he founded the local NAACP. With NAACP support, he filed a pay equalization lawsuit in 1937. He became the president of the NAACP’s statewide branches. In 1941. 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. With the focus on voting, Moore led the Progressive Voters’ League during the next six years in voter registration drives that succeeded in registering 116,000 black people, 31 percent of those eligible to vote in Florida. It was a major increase in black voters and the percentage was 51 percent higher than the proportion of blacks registered to vote in any other southern state.

In 1946, the public school system fired the Moores and blacklisted them because of Harry’s political activism.  Harry Moore then became a full-time NAACP activist, increasing the membership in the state to a peak of 10,000 in the next two years. He also pursued civil rights justice. NAACP membership in Florida fell sharply after the national office doubled the cost of individual dues to two dollars a year. Later NAACP national president Walter White fired Moore from his state NAACP position because of disagreements over dues costs and the focus of his activities. The national organization wanted to concentrate on strategies to be used to wage legal challenges to segregation. On Christmas night in 1951, Harry Tyson Moore and his wife, Harriett, were killed by a bomb explosive which was hidden and placed under their house by the Ku Klux Klan.

 

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