Synopses & Reviews
Fifty years ago -- before Martin Luther King, Jr., began to preach from his pulpit in Montgomery, Alabama, the landmark Brown v. Board of Education
decision, or Rosa Parks's famous bus ride -- a man named Harry T. Moore toiled in Jim Crow Florida on behalf of the NAACP and the Progressive Voters' League. For seventeen years, in an era of official indifference and outright hostility, the soft-spoken but resolute Moore traveled the backroads of the state on a mission to educate, evangelize, and organize. But on Christmas night in 1951, in a small orange grove in tiny Mims, Florida, a bomb placed under a bed ended Harry Moore's life. Although his daughters, Peaches and Evangeline, survived, his wife, Harriette, died of her wounds a week later. Unjustly neglected until now, Moore's death stands as the first in what was to be a long and tragic line of assassinations in the civil rights movement.
It was Moore's defense of the Groveland Four -- black youths accused, under murky circumstances, of raping a white woman in Lake County -- that drew the wrath of the Ku Klux Klan and pitted him against one of the most feared and vilified sheriffs in the country. Two of the Groveland Four were shot -- one fatally -- in the custody of Sheriff Willis McCall, who despite fifty investigations and a litany of racial scandals would remain in office for nearly thirty years. Ben Green revisits the people and circumstances surrounding Harry Moore's death, and brings alive a cast of characters worthy of Harper Lee or Flannery O'Connor. But as we journey through time with Green, we see all too vividly that police beatings, suppressed evidence, complicit juries, and angry mobs comprise an unforgettable part of our recent past, and even our present.
The governor of Florida reopened the case of Harry Moore's murder in 1991. Although the investigation revealed for the first time that the Klan was almost certainly responsible for Moore's death, no one was put behind bars. Bringing a fresh eye to the newly available FBI files, Green offers a reckoning of the good and the bad, the villainous and the virtuous. His shocking book helps us to reclaim the past, as far as we are capable of knowing it, even when complete and final justice eludes us. It also offers a poignant testimony to all the unsung heroes who, like Harry Moore, were long-forgotten early martyrs to the cause of civil rights and racial justice.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 257-294) and index.
About the Author
Ben Green, a freelance writer and journalist, is on the faculty of Florida State University. He is the author of Finest Kind, for which he was recognized as a Bread Loaf Fellow, and The Soldier of Fortune Murders, which served as the basis for a CBS ministries. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with his wife, Tracie Schneider, and their two daughters, Emily and Eliza.
Table of Contents
Chapter 13: "Who Killed Harry T. Moore?"