A sign designating Highway 46 as the Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Memorial Highway at the Brevard County and Volusia County lines has been defaced by what appears to be gunshots. The ammunition used didn’t penetrate the metal, but most of the bullets hit the names Harry and Harriette.
“We are going to replace the sign as soon as possible,” said Steve Olson, the communications manager for the Florida Department of Transportation’s East Central Region, which cover nine counties, including Brevard and Volusia. “We're going to expedite getting a new sign in place." The signs marking a span of Highway 46 in honor of the Moores were designated in 2012 following a bill put forth by state Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne. There are two signs: one at the West Brevard County line where it meets Volusia, and one near U.S. 1 and Highway 46 in Mims. The Moores are early civil rights leaders who were killed by the Ku Klux Klan in a bombing on Christmas night 1951 in Mims. It is not known what was behind the sign defacing, but Bill Gary, president of the board of the Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Cultural Complex, said as recent as a few years ago, the KKK were dropping fliers at the cultural complex. “A few years ago, we had the annual Moore Memorial service, and the gravesite service is at the LaGrange Cemetery (in Titusville),” Gary said. “We usually try to have the program afterward at the Moore center to bring people in to learn about the Moores, and when we arrived, there were KKK fliers all over the parking lot with a phone number to call. "A local TV station called the number and a person told them they were recruiting. I suspect it was a little bit of intimidation to put the fliers out there.” A sign designating Highway 46 as the Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Memorial Highway at the Brevard County and Volusia County lines has been defaced by what appears to be gunshots. A sign designating Highway 46 as the Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Memorial Highway at the Brevard County and Volusia County lines has been defaced by what appears to be gunshots. (Photo: Bill Gary/Special to FLORIDA TODAY) Similar issues were occurring in Mississippi, where signs dedicated to Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955, were being shot and vandalized. In Oct. 2019 a 500-pound bulletproof sign was installed. Harry Moore founded the Brevard Chapter of the NAACP and signed up more than 100,000 blacks to vote in Florida throughout the 1940s.
It was his investigation into the Groveland Four that ultimately led to his demise. The Groveland Four consisted of four black men accused of raping a white woman. A mob lynched one of the four while Sheriff Willis McCall detained the other three. The three men, including one minor, were eventually found guilty by an all-white jury. Moore, who had become the executive director of the Florida NAACP, organized a campaign against what he saw as the wrongful convictions of the three men. After the men’s convictions were overturned, McCall shot two of them while transporting them to a new trial venue. He claimed the two men, both handcuffed, attacked him in an escape attempt. One man died at the scene while the other survived and said McCall shot them in cold blood. Moore called for an indictment against McCall and called on Florida Gov. Fuller Warren to suspend McCall from office. Six weeks later, on Christmas night 1951, the night of the Moores’ 25th wedding anniversary, a bomb went off beneath the couples' house in Mims. “Someone gave them the layout of Harry T. Moore’s house,” said Sonya Mallard, Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Memorial Park and Museum coordinator. “They knew which side of the bed he slept on and they strategically placed the dynamite under the right side of the bed.” Both were fatally injured; Moore died on the way to the black hospital in Sanford, which was about 30 miles away but was the closest to serve African Americans. His wife died from her injuries nine days later at the same hospital in Sanford. Gov. Ron DeSantis posthumously pardoned the Groveland Four as one of his first acts in office on Jan. 11, 2019