‘We want them to be recognized’: Brevard County groups push to preserve legacy of local civil rights pioneers

MIMS, Fla. — Two groups in Brevard County are making plans to ask the school board to preserve the legacy of two civil rights pioneers.

Harry T. Moore and Harriette V. Moore died after their Mims home was bombed on Christmas night in 1951.

“They go by the Moore Justice Center or some other place and they see that name. I don’t think a great number of them know the full story,” said William “Bill” Gary, board president of Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Cultural Complex.

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Nearly 70 years later, there is a push to make the couple and the lessons they taught part of the district’s lesson plan.

The board of Cultural Complex and the Brevard Federation of Teachers will ask the school board to make a field trip to the Moore Cultural Complex mandatory for all the district’s fourth graders.

“Our students who do go through our school system and become education not only become educated in the subjects of math and science, but in the history of all people and their contributions to making this country a great country,” Gary said.

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Harry T. Moore formed the Brevard County NAACP in 1934. He fought against lynchings, police brutality and inequities in the criminal system. He also pushed for equality in teacher salaries in Florida’s segregated schools.

In 1946, the Moores’ teaching contracts were not renewed. On Christmas night in 1951, the couple’s 25th wedding anniversary, a bomb exploded under their bedroom. Harry T. Moore was killed. Harriette V. Moore died nine days later.

“He registered 116,000 Black votes in the state of Florida, and that was before Twitter, TikTok (and) Instagram,” said Jonathan Hilliard, the second vice president at the Brevard Federation of Teachers.

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The Brevard Federation of Teachers is hopeful the school board will see fit to symbolically reinstate the civil rights pioneers.

“Call it what you want, an honorary, emeritus position of teacher, but we want them to be recognized,” Hilliard said.

The Brevard Federation of Teachers and members of the Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Cultural Complex hope to address the school board next month.

Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.