At a gathering May 14, members of the NAACP West Volusia Branch showed their appreciation for a pair of local legislators who helped get statewide recognition for two distinguished martyrs of the civil-rights movement.
Activist Harry T. Moore, an educator and a founder of the Brevard County branch of the NAACP, and his wife, Harriette Moore, were killed on Christmas night when their home in Mims was bombed in 1951.
The West Volusia Branch NAACP spearheaded an effort to have the Moores memorialized with a state holiday.
Finally, during the 2018 session of the Florida Legislature, a joint effort by Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, and Rep. Patrick Henry, D-Daytona Beach, led to passage of a bill designating the third Saturday in December as “Harry Tyson Moore and Harriette Vyda Simms Moore Day.”
“Harry and Harriette Moore were trailblazers. They truly were at the forefront of the civil-rights movement in Florida,” Henry said. “ … They gave their lives for something they believed in. People need to know about these two, because they gave their lives for what they believed in.”
“To me, this was a no-brainer, when we thought about this some years ago,” said Mike Williams, president of the NAACP West Volusia Branch.
Williams has a personal connection to Harry Moore, as well: His father, he said, purchased his NAACP membership from Moore.
“I’m born and raised in New Smyrna Beach,” Williams said. “My father bought his membership from Mr. Moore in the late ’40s.”
During the May 14 event, Williams emotionally recounted a time when his father cautioned Moore about how his activism might put him in grave danger.
“My dad said to him … ‘Mr. Moore, don’t you let them Crackers kill you for what you’re doing,’” Williams said, his voice breaking. “And you know what Mr. Moore said? ‘If they kill me, it’s for a good cause.’”