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

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9780813028378: Before His Time: The Untold Story of Harry T. Moore, America's First Civil Rights Martyr

In Jim Crow Florida, a young black man’s courageous fight to obtain equal rights for blacks ends in a personal tragedy that remains unsolved to this day. This is his story. Before Martin Luther King Jr. began to preach from his pulpit in Montgomery, before the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, and before Rosa Parks' famous bus ride, a man named Harry T. Moore toiled in Jim Crow Florida on behalf of the NAACP and the Progressive Voters’ League. For seventeen years, in an era of official indifference and outright hostility, the soft-spoken but resolute Moore traveled the back roads of the state on a mission to educate, evangelize, and organize. On Christmas night in 1951, in Mims, Florida, a bomb placed under his bed ended Harry Moore’s life. His wife, Harriette, died of her wounds a week later. Although Florida’s governor reopened the case in 1991, no one was ever convicted of this crime.            Using previously unavailable FBI files, Green introduces his readers to the good and the bad, the villainous and the virtuous, in Jim Crow Florida. In doing so, he offers a poignant and gripping memorial to the pioneering work of Harry T. Moore, one of the earliest martyrs of the modern civil rights movement. 

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Review:

Before graduate student Mike King began using his given name, Martin Luther, before Detroit Red changed his name to Malcolm X, and before Medgar Evers joined the NAACP, civil rights activist Harry T. Moore was murdered. On Christmas night, 1951, an explosion ripped through his house, the bomb having been planted directly under his bed. His mother, visiting for the holidays, had been very concerned for Moore's safety. In the 1950s, in the Deep South, Moore's political activism had earned him plenty of enemies. "Every advancement comes by way of sacrifice," he told his mother before going to bed that night. "What I am doing is for the benefit of my race."

In the 1930s and '40s, Moore drove the roads of Florida, organizing the local NAACP, speaking quietly against Jim Crow laws, and urging blacks to register to vote. He also wrote elegantly argued letters to the governor and other public officials, protesting injustices and atrocities against blacks. Seen as a troublemaker, Moore became entangled with Willis McCall--whom author Ben Green calls "the prototype of the racist Southern sheriff." Green intertwines the biographies of these two very different men, drawing a picture of racial tension in an era before the issues reached national attention. Green is especially good at capturing the atmosphere of the events--dense fogs, sticky heat, clouds of biting insects--but goes slightly astray when listening to drunken former Klansmen, who are perhaps merely seeking their 15 minutes of fame and not unburdening their souls before they die, as they spout confessions about Moore's murder. Like many biographers, Green clearly admires his subject, which makes him write slightly purple prose. Moore's life, however, was clearly admirable and Green has written a moving tribute to this sadly forgotten man. --C.B. Delaney

Book Description:

In Jim Crow Florida, a young black man’s courageous fight to obtain equal rights for blacks ends in a personal tragedy that remains unsolved to this day. This is his story. “We can only share the author’s admiration for his subject’s singular achievement. . . . Green has performed a valuable service in bringing attention once more to this courageous man.”—New York Times “A gifted storyteller and a tenacious investigator, Ben Green uncovers a remarkable and heartbreaking tale that has been buried for fifty years.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University Before Martin Luther King Jr. began to preach from his pulpit in Montgomery, before the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, and before Rosa Parks' famous bus ride, a man named Harry T. Moore toiled in Jim Crow Florida on behalf of the NAACP and the Progressive Voters’ League. For seventeen years, in an era of official indifference and outright hostility, the soft-spoken but resolute Moore traveled the back roads of the state on a mission to educate, evangelize, and organize. On Christmas night in 1951, in Mims, Florida, a bomb placed under his bed ended Harry Moore’s life. His wife, Harriette, died of her wounds a week later. Although Florida’s governor reopened the case in 1991, no one was ever convicted of this crime.            Using previously unavailable FBI files, Green introduces his readers to the good and the bad, the villainous and the virtuous, in Jim Crow Florida. In doing so, he offers a poignant and gripping memorial to the pioneering work of Harry T. Moore, one of the earliest martyrs of the modern civil rights movement. 

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Green, Ben
Editore: University Press of Florida (2005)
ISBN 10: 081302837X ISBN 13: 9780813028378
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Descrizione libro University Press of Florida, 2005. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. New edition. Codice libro della libreria DADAX081302837X

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