Freedom Never Dies - Harry & Harriette Moore Story
December 20, 2016
Henderworks salutes the life and legacy of Harry and Harriette Moore who gave their life on Christmas Day for our freedom.
Harry Tyson Moore (November 18, 1905 – December 25, 1951) was an African-American educator, a pioneer leader of the Civil Rights Movement, and founder of the first branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Brevard County, Florida.
Harry T. Moore and his wife, Harriette Vyda Simms Moore, also an educator, were the victims of a bombing of their home in Mims, Florida on Christmas night 1951. He died in an ambulance on the way to a hospital in Seminole County while she died January 3, 1952 at the hospital in Sanford, Florida. Forensic work in 2005-6 resulted in the naming of the probable perpetrators as four Ku Klux Klan members, all long dead by the time of the investigation. The Moores were the first NAACP members to be murdered for civil rights activism; Moore has been called the first martyr of the early stage of the Civil Rights Movement.
In the early 1930s Moore had become state secretary for the Florida chapter of the NAACP. Through his registration activities, he greatly increased the number of members, and he worked on issues of housing and education. He investigated lynchings, filed lawsuits against voter registration barriers and white primaries, and worked for equal pay for black teachers in public schools.
Moore also led the Progressive Voters League. Following a 1944 US Supreme Court ruling against white primaries, between 1944 and 1950, he succeeded in increasing the registration of black voters in Florida to 31 percent of those eligible to vote, markedly higher than in any other Southern state. In 1946 he and his wife were fired from the public school system because of his activism; he worked full-time for the NAACP.
This ballad was written by Mr. Langston Hughes
Ballad of Harry Moore
(Killed at Mims, Florida, on Christmas night, 1951)
Florida means land of flowers. It was on Christmas night In the state named for the flowers Men came bearing dynamite.
Men came stealing through the orange groves Bearing hate instead of love, While the Star of Bethlehem Was in the sky above.
Oh, memories of a Christmas evening When Wise Men traveled from afar Seeking out a lowly manger Guided by a Holy Star!
Oh, memories of a Christmas evenin When to Bethlehem there came "Peace on earth, good will to men"-- Jesus was His name.
But they must've forgotten Jesus Down in Florida that night Stealing through the orange groves Bearing hate and dynamite.
It was a little cottage, A family, name of Moore. In the windows wreaths of holly, And a pine wreath on the door.
The family prayers were said When father, mother, daughter, And grandmother went to bed.
The father's name was Harry Moore. The N.A.A.C.P.
Told him to carry out its work That Negroes might be free.
So it was that Harry Moore (So deeply did he care)
Sought the right for men to live With their heads up everywhere.
Because of that, white killers, Who like Negroes "in their place,"
Came stealing through the orange groves On that night of dark disgrace.
It could not be in Jesus' name, Beneath the bedroom floor,
On Christmas night the killers Hid the bomb for Harry Moore.
It could not be in Jesus' name The killers took his life, Blew his home to pieces And killed his faithful wife.
It could not be for the sake of love They did this awful thing-- For when the bomb exploded No hearts were heard to sing.
And certainly no angels cried, "Peace on earth, good will to men"-- But around the world an echo hurled A question: When?...When?....When?
When will men for sake of peace And for democracy Learn no bombs a man can make Keep men from being free?
It seems that I hear Harry Moore. From the earth his voice cries, No bomb can kill the dreams I hold-- For freedom never dies!
I will not stop! I will not stop-- For freedom never dies! I will not stop! I will not stop! Freedom never dies!
So should you see our Harry Moore Walking on a Christmas night, Don't run and hide, you killers, He has no dynamite.
In his heart is only love For all the human race, And all he wants is for every man To have his rightful place.
And this he says, our Harry Moore, As from the grave he cries: No bomb can kill the dreams I hold For freedom never dies!