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Slain Central Florida civils rights activists nominated for Presidential Medal of Freedom

Harry and Harriette Moore. Photo: Harry and Harriette Moore Museum
Harry and Harriette Moore. Photo: Harry and Harriette Moore Museum

US Representative and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Crist has nominated Harry and Harriette Moore for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The husband and wife civil rights activists from Mims, Florida were killed by the KKK in the 1950s.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is one of the highest civilian awards in the United States. 

Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Memorial Park and Museum Cultural Coordinator Sonya Mallard says the Moores registered Black voters, fought for equal pay for Black teachers and sought justice for victims of lynchings.

Mallard says this honor would show that their legacy didn’t die with them when their home was bombed on Christmas Day in 1951. 

“A dream doesn’t die. Dynamite cannot kill off a man’s legacy of wanting more for mankind. For everybody. Not just Blacks and whites during the 30s, 40s, and 50s. But for everyone to live together, to be together and to have kindness for each other. And to have a better way of life for all people.”

Mallard says this award would bring new attention to their legacy which includes registering hundreds of thousands of Black voters throughout the state.

“I’m proud to tell you today here at the Cultural Center we’re a voting, polling  place here. Where people in the zip code have to come here to vote. So what happened? They killed the man but didn’t kill his dream. He was just a force to be reckoned with. He knew how to encourage and mobilize people back in those days when he got over 116,000 Blacks registered to vote.”

Crist famously reopened the case into who murdered the Moores in 2005, finding four Klansmen responsible.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.