Harriette Vyda Simms Moore

By Peggy Macdonald

Civil rights activist, educator (Mims)

Years: 1902–1952

Remembered for: Harriette Moore and her husband, Harry Tyson Moore were early martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement.

Why you should know her:

In 1902, Harriette Vyda Simms Moore was born in the small citrus town of Mims. She graduated from high school at the Daytona Normal Industrial Institute, which merged with Jacksonville’s Cookman Institute in 1923 and became Bethune-Cookman College in 1931. Moore also completed her college education at Bethune- Cookman. She later taught at the Titusville Negro School near Mims, where Harry Tyson Moore served as an instructor and principal of the school. Harriette Simms and Harry T. Moore married and had two daughters.

Harry founded the Florida branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). With the backing of Thurgood Marshall, Harry filed a lawsuit to equalize salaries for Black and white educators in Florida. He also led a voter registration initiative that resulted in more than 116,000 African Americans registering to vote.

Harriette and Harry T. Moore shared the cost of their activism. In 1946, they were both fired from their teaching jobs in Brevard County. On Christmas night, 1951 Harriette and Harry T. Moore became civil rights martyrs when a bomb exploded under their bed. Harry died from his wounds on the way to the hospital; Harriette died nine days later. NAACP representative Roy Wilkins spoke at Harriette’s funeral, inviting those in attendance to join the NAACP in seeking justice in the case. Though their murder was never solved, a Dec. 29, 1951, editorial in the historically Black Miami Times suggested that the bombing was motivated by Harry’s NAACP activities and his work in the Groveland rape case. Harriette and Harry T. Moore were the only couple killed during the civil rights movement.

Featured imageHarriette Moore