Briefly Noted: Before His Time: The Untold Story of Harry T. Moore, America’s First Civil Rights Martyr

Those researching civil rights leaders in Florida will find this book a handy resource. The third edition, released by the Florida Historical Society Press in 2017 is the one available on Amazon. Typical of historical society and university press books, the retail price is higher than what you might expect from a major publisher, however, Amazon has used copies available at a great saving.

From the Publisher

On Christmas night, 1951, a bomb exploded in Mims, Florida, under the home of civil rights activist and educator Harry T. Moore.

Harry and his wife Harriette both died from injuries sustained in the blast, making them the first martyrs of the contemporary civil rights movement. They were killed twelve years before Medgar Evers, fourteen years before Malcolm X, and seventeen years before Martin Luther King, Jr.

The sound of the bomb could be heard three miles away in the neighboring town of Titusville, but what resonates today is the memory of the important civil rights work accomplished by Moore.

This new edition of Ben Green s comprehensive biography of Harry T. Moore includes updated material about the investigations into the bombing, and additional photographs commemorating Moore s legacy.

If you follow civil rights issues, you know that there have been several investigations of the crime, the final one yielding the names of probable perpetrators. Two would die of natural causes and one by suicide before the initial FBI investigation was complete. I doubt we will ever find true closure on this crime. The book fills in a lot of details about what made Moore a marked man and what happened in the aftermath of the bombing.

I wish the publisher’s description included, at least, a few generalities about the focus of Moore’s work since he was active so long ago and hasn’t loomed large in mainstream civil rights histories. I found this book very helpful in my research for the novel in progress and recommend it to scholars and others interested in Florida and the Klan.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell’s Florida Folk Magic Series of four novels set in the Florida Panhandle in the 1950s focuses on battles against the KKK in a small town. Conjure Woman’s Cat is the first novel in the series Fate’s Arrows is the fourth book in the series.

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