When most people think of Christmas they usually envision images of an older, portly, White man in a hot, itchy red costume, encouraging children to sit on his lap while desperately trying to not look like a pedophile. Others may think of a grandmother getting trampled in Best Buy because she did not move fast enough to let the unemployed, thirty-year old video gamer get first dibs on the new World of Warcraft game. But I’m sure everyone thinks of Black Friday. It’s one of the few times of the year when even White folks are happy to take part in a “Black” event. Christmas is all about sales right? Enough with the sarcasm.
When I think of Christmas many thoughts run through my head. One of the recurring thoughts is about Harry T. Moore who was murdered on Christmas night in 1951 while at home with his wife, Harriette V. Moore. Harry T. Moore was an educator and activist who fought tirelessly against racism and for the full citizenship of Blacks in his home state of Florida. Moore established the first NAACP in Brevard County in 1934. Later he served as President of the Florida Conference of NAACP Branches. Most of his short life was dedicated to ensuring equality for Blacks at the ballot box, in the workforce, and in the courtroom.
In 1937 he and the NAACP filed a lawsuit to seek redress for the wage inequities that Blacks teachers dealt with. In the early 1940’s he waged a campaign to stop the lynching of Blacks in Florida. He collected affidavits, wrote letters to law enforcement officials, and lobbied elected officials to take legislative action to end lynching and other Jim Crow practices in the Sunshine state. Due to his activism, in 1944 the NAACP won a case (Smith v. Allwright), which found White-only Democratic primaries to be unconstitutional. After this decision, the Black voter turnout rate increased from 5% in 1934 to 31% in 1950(this rate was higher than any other Southern state at that time). Obviously his activism didn’t sit well with the “good-ole boys” of Florida who wanted to maintain the status quo. On Christmas night in 1951 a bomb detonated beneath he and his wife’s home killing him on their 25th wedding anniversary. His wife died 9 days later. Although the FBI was called to investigate the bombing nobody was ever arrested for the crime.
As you share the joys of unwrapping presents, drinking egg nog, and enjoying the revelry of friends and family this Christmas, take sometime to think about the fallen soldiers who have paved the way for you and yours. Merry Christmas!