The Balance of Power: Harry T. Moore and Voting Rights in Florida

Author: ORCID icon
Mitchell, Allison, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Harold, Claudrena, AS-History AS-Office of the Dean, University of Virginia

Harry T. and Harriet Moore are considered two of the first martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement. Harry T. Moore was a founder of the Progressive Voters’ League of Florida and a leader in the Florida State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. During the second half of the 1940s, Moore worked tirelessly to increase Black political power in Florida. This thesis directly follows the activism of Harry T. Moore from 1944 to 1951 in Florida. An examination of Moore’s life demonstrates that the Supreme Court decision Smith v. Allwright, which legally ended all-white democracy primaries, transformed Black politics in Florida. It argues that activists attempted to adopt a political ideology that denoted Black political collectivism and localism previously embraced by earlier generations. This local movement involved registering African Americans to vote, teaching them how to assess candidates, and promoting Black collective voting as the key to Black electoral politics. Developing a cohesive movement required engaging with individual people, listening to their personal experiences, and understanding their plight. Subsequently, this scholarship wrestles with the contestation between local and national organizing. On various occasions, Moore’s focus on the local Black communities clashed with his obligations to the NAACP. Nevertheless, until his death, Harry T. Moore remained dedicated to his community and the Black citizens in Florida.

MA (Master of Arts)
Civil Rights Movement, Florida, African American History , US 20th Century History , Voting Rights
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: