As I prepared to attempt to honor Black History Month, I revisited a story that took place in our sleepy little town. It was a story I thought I knew, but turns out, I actually knew very little. As I read the details of the events, I felt sick to my stomach. Harry T. Moore was born back in 1905 in Houston, Florida. He was nine years old when his father passed. His mother was unable to take care of him by herself, so she sent him to live with an aunt. He continued to be raised by three aunts and did well enough in school to attend college.
*MOORE WAS A COLLEGE GRADUATE
Now as a single mom myself, I know how hard it is to try and keep kids on a good path that will lead to success. My own goal was to raise good people who were productive citizens. That being said, I cannot even begin to imagine how much harder it would have been in the early 1900s. But Moore didn’t just stay on a good path, he graduated high school and then graduated from Florida Memorial College and became a high school teacher.
*MOORE BECAME A LEADER
Harry Moore went on to become principal at the school, the founding member of the Brevard County NAACP, the Progressive Voter League and eventually the Florida State Conference of the NAACP. He was a great leader who worked hard to equalize salaries of black and white teachers. He led many to register to vote and took a stand for what was morally and ethically right.
*MOORE WAS NOT AFRAID
Harry Moore was not afraid to stand up for those he felt were being taken advantage of or being wronged. He knew that the work that he was doing could possibly cost him his life. And on Christmas Day, December 25, 1951, as Harry T. Moore and his wife Harriette were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, a bomb went off under their home. He died on the way to the hospital, and she died nine days later.
What if this was you? Or me? What if this was our parents who suffered a terrible death? Then it hit me. This did happen to me, and to you, and to all of us. We are all one blood. Somehow, we have believed a lie that there is an Us and Them. Our own thoughts (or believing someone else’s thoughts) have replaced the truth that WE ARE ONE FAMILY. We will all feel shame and rejection when we are treated inferior, no matter what we look like. There is no room at the table for hatred and violence. We are called to love our neighbors. As we honor Black History Month, I am thankful for men like Harry T. Moore. I would be honored to have him as my neighbor.
Written by: Nancy Chappel