April 23rd, 1963

William Moore Killed During One-Man Civil Rights March to Mississippi

On April 23, 1963, the body of William L. Moore was found on U.S. Highway 11 near Attalla, Alabama, only four days shy of his 36th birthday. Moore, a white man, was in the midst of a one-man civil rights march to Jackson, Mississippi, to implore Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett to support integration efforts. He wore signs that stated: “End Segregation in America, Eat at Joe's-Both Black and White” and “Equal Rights For All (Mississippi or Bust).”

Moore, a resident of Baltimore, Maryland, was a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and had staged other lone protests in the past. On his first protest, he walked to Annapolis, Maryland, from Baltimore. On his second march, he walked to the White House. For his third and final march, he planned to walk from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Jackson.

About 70 miles into the march, a local radio station reporter named Charlie Hicks interviewed Moore after the radio station received an anonymous tip of his whereabouts. After the interview, Hicks offered to drive Moore to a hotel where he would be safe, but Moore continued on his march instead. Less than an hour later, a passing motorist found his body.

Moore had been shot in the head with a .22-caliber rifle that was traced to Floyd Simpson, a white Alabamian. Simpson was arrested but never indicted for Moore's murder. When activists from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and CORE attempted to finish Moore’s march using the same route, they were beaten and arrested by Alabama State Troopers.