August 16th, 2006

Florida Attorney General Names Suspects in 55-Year-Old Civil Rights Murders

On the evening of December 25, 1951, a bomb exploded at the Florida home of Harry and Harriette Moore, killing the couple on their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Harry Moore’s mother and the couple’s daughter were asleep in adjoining rooms but escaped with minor injuries. It was one of a series of bombings in Florida at the time that targeted African Americans, Jews, and Catholics.

The Moores were leading civil rights activists and teachers in Brevard County, Florida. In 1934, they established the first Brevard County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). With the organization’s support, Harry Moore filed a lawsuit to gain equal pay for black teachers. In 1945, he established the Florida Progressive Voters League, which helped register thousands of black voters in the state. Appointed director of the Florida NAACP a year later, he called for investigations into a number of lynchings throughout the South. The Moores’ deaths were among the first murders of prominent civil rights leaders during the civil rights era and sparked a number of meetings and protests across the nation. No arrests were made.

Nearly fifty-five years later, on August 16, 2006, Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist announced that the state had enough evidence to conclude that Klu Klux Klan member Earl Krooklyn had recruited three other Klan members and used floor plans of the Moore home to orchestrate the bombing. By the time of the announcement, all four suspects were deceased.