Harry T. Moore grew up in an age when lynchings were commonplace, and condoned by white authorities. Showing great courage, Moore committed himself to fighting against lynchings, even at the risk of his own life.
|This unidentified man was one of 61 African-Americans lynched in Florida from 1921-1946.|
By 1930, four thousand blacks had been lynched nationwide by white mobs, vigilantes, or the Klan. Most of these occurred in the Deep South, many with law enforcement complicity.
And while Alabama and Mississippi had more total lynchings, it was Florida, surprisingly, that had the highest per capita rate of lynching from 1900-1930.
One of the most notorious lynchings in U.S. history occurred in Marianna, Florida - some two hundred miles from where Harry Moore grew up. The lynching of Claude Neal was the last of the so-called spectacle lynchings. [Claude Neal]
Moore's War on Lynching
Harry Moore was indefatigable in his efforts to bring an end to lynching. At first, he waged his war through letters - asking politicians to support federal anti-lynching legislation, while reminding them of the long list of unsolved cases in Florida.
His letters to Florida governors were even more strident. He demanded that they bring the responsible parties to justice and called for the removal of law enforcement officers who allowed
these lynchings to take place.
But when these protest letters didn't work, Moore adopted new tactics. If Florida's law enforcement officers refused to fully investigate lynchings, he would do it himself. And that's exactly what he did in the case of Willie James Howard. [Willie James Howard]