Seventy years ago this week, Harry and Harriette Moore were assassinated when a bomb hidden under their house was detonated. The bombing demonstrates how Florida played a significant role in Black Americans’ fight for civil rights — more so than is often acknowledged. Supported by his wife, Harry Moore spent two decades registering Black voters, demanding equal pay for Black teachers, leading an anti-lynching campaign and growing the NAACP’s membership in small towns across Florida.
Weeks before his death, Moore confronted Lake County Sherriff Willis McCall and demanded he be indicted for shooting and killing Samuel Shepherd, one of the Black men at the center of the Groveland Four case. Shepherd and three others were falsely accused of raping a white woman and were finally exonerated in November 2021.
“If you think about it, the Groveland defendants were in a southern white supremacist judicial justice system,” says history professor Robert Cassanello. “Their fates were secure. If you’re a white supremacist during that time, I don’t know that you fretted an all-white jury in the state of Florida was going to acquit those three young men.”