Daughter of civil rights martyrs: Their sacrifice was worth it
By Margie Menzel
The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE, FL — For 82-year-old Evangeline Moore, Wednesday was a long time coming.
She was 21 when her pa-rents, the teachers and civil rights organizers Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore, died of in-juries after a bomb blew up their home in Brevard County on Christmas Eve in 1951.
Evangeline Moore traveled from her home in Maryland to the Capitol for her parents’ induction into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame, with Gov. Rick Scott in attendance.
“This is indeed an honor, something that I have waited so long for,” Moore said. “My parents, as you know, were killed in 1951, and I am still striving and struggling to have them properly recognized. This, to me, is the apex.”
For many, it’s a mystery why the name of Harry T. Moore isn’t spoken in the same breath with Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers and other civil-rights martyrs.
Harry Moore started the Brevard County NAACP in 1934, the first of dozens of branches he would found, and registered tens of thousands of Black voters. He was the first NAACP official killed in the civil-rights era, and the Moores are the only married couple to give their lives in the struggle.
“Dad started the civil rights movement in the South,” said their daughter. “It’s very, very disconcerting that he hasn’t been honored as he should be, he and my mother.”
But now, looking back, she said, their sacrifice has been vindicated.
“It does seem worth it, because things are so much better,” Moore said. “We’ve had school integration. We’ve had Black senators and congress-men. It’s much, much better than it was when I was growing up.”
The Moores fought lynching and segregation as a family. Evangeline said her father was followed when he traveled, so they all traveled together, across the state.
“We always had to take lunches and be prepared for long rides, with no stops to go to the bathroom or anything,” she re-called. “It was hard. But it’s so much better now.”
She said her parents were remarkable people, and not just in terms of their civil rights work.
“They were great educators and wonderful, wonderful parents,” she said. “I miss them.”
Harry T. Moore is the subject of a PBS documentary, “Freedom Never Dies,” named for a poem that Langston Hughes wrote about the slaying.
Also inducted into the Civil Rights Hall of Fame was James B. Sanderlin, a lawyer who fought for desegregation in Pinellas County and became the first African American judge there. As an attorney, Sanderlin won the lawsuit that desegregated the Pinellas County schools and led a strike by sanitation workers. He died in 1990, and his brother Raymond accepted his posthumous induction and Margarita Romo, champion of migrant farm workers in Pasco and Hernando Counties. Romo established Farmworkers Self-Help, Inc., which provides job training and helps on immigration issues, along with a free medical clinic and after-school programs for teens and Romo accepted “in the name of all our farm workers in Florida” and said, “We’re not going to quit until we’re all free.”