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    Brevard history lesson: Who were Harry and Harriette Moore, slain civil rights activists?

    By Finch Walker, Florida Today,

    2024-06-19

    The Moore Cultural Complex is just one of many places around Brevard County celebrating Juneteenth this month.

    They'll be handing out copies of a new children's book, "Freedom Never Dies: The Story of Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore" at their June 29 celebration at the Moore Memorial Park in Mims. It's a way to incorporate Brevard's local history and the legacy of the Moores — civil rights activists and educators who were killed in 1951 — into the holiday.

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    Who were the Moores?

    Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore were educators and civil rights activists in Brevard, working for the rights of African Americans from the 1930s until their deaths in 1951. They established the Brevard County NAACP; helped Florida become the state with the highest number of Black voters in the South at the time; organized the Florida State Conference of the NAACP; taught in Cocoa, Titusville and Mims until they were fired from their teaching jobs in 1946; and more.

    Their names appear in an "official Register of Electors" book found in 2015 during a cleanup at the Supervisor of Elections' Titusville office. Their names were registered on March 29, 1934, with Harry listed as 28 years old and Harriette as 30. They are both listed as teachers and Republicans who were born in Florida. The book was loaned to the Moore Cultural Center.

    When were the Moores killed?

    The Moores were killed on the night of Dec. 25, 1951, when a bomb beneath the floor of their bedroom went off. The nearest hospital treated only white people, and on the 30-mile drive to Sanford, Harry Moore died. Harriette Moore died nine days later.

    An investigation in 2006 concluded that four men with ties to the Ku Klux Klan were likely suspects in the attack, though no one was arrested.

    When did Brevard students start learning about the Moores?

    The Moores and their contributions have often been glossed over or left out entirely from history books, something William "Bill" Gary of North Brevard NAACP attributes to their deaths occurring before the civil rights movement.

    But in late 2020, he and other local activists, as well as Brevard Federation of Teachers, began working to implement curriculum that included the Moores at Brevard Public Schools.

    A resolution was passed in February 2021 by Brevard's school board acknowledging its failure to renew the Moores' teaching contracts due to racist opposition to the couple's activism. The board posthumously reinstated them as "teachers emeritus," and that year, mandatory curriculum was developed by the Moore Cultural Complex with modules geared toward fourth-, seventh-, eighth- and 10th-graders.

    In addition to in-class material, all eighth-graders are taken on a field trip to the Moore Cultural Complex.

    Finch Walker is the education reporter at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Walker at fwalker@floridatoday.com . X: @_ finchwalker .

    This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Brevard history lesson: Who were Harry and Harriette Moore, slain civil rights activists?

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