Little-known heroes of the Civil Rights Movement remembered during Black History Month

MIMS, Fla. (WFLA) – Harry T. Moore and his wife Harriette V. Moore, two little-known pioneers of the civil rights movement, lived in Mims, a tiny town along the space-coast just east of Orlando.

On Christmas Day in 1951, someone placed sticks of dynamite underneath the front porch of their modest shotgun home.

“That was the bomb that was heard around the world,” said Sonya Mallard, the Harry & Harriette Moore Cultural Complex Coordinator. “They told me that people as far as Titusville came running to see what happened, they thought NASA  blew up.”

Harry Moore died that day. Harriet passed away nine days later.

Before his untimely death, Harry Moore was the statewide secretary of the NAACP. He routinely registered black voters and spoke out against lynchings, making the couple a target.

“They were the first couple that really took it by the horn. They didn’t want to sweep it under the rug,” Mallard said.

Many believe that blast shined a brighter light on the civil rights movement, a movement that greatly affected William Gary.

Gary is the president of the Harry T. and Harry V. Moore Cultural Complex, the board that oversees the Moore Memorial Park & Museum in Mims. He’s dedicated the last several years of his life to park, which includes a replica of their home.

Gary wants more people to know about the couple’s legacy and the sacrifice they made for freedom.

“The early civil rights movement received a tremendous boost and the interest in their story has just grown by leaps and bounds over the years,” Gary said.

“It’s a very emotional thing for me. I grew up in the segregated south in Mississippi, actually in the hotbed of civil rights history. So my ability to get a college education, to be an engineer and work for NASA,  is a direct result of things they were fighting for back then,” Gary said.

The museum is open Monday through Thursday from 10 to 7, Fridays, 9-6 and Saturday 10 to 2.

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