The BOMB went off with a deafening roar at 10:20 on Christmas night. Neighbors thought it was a Christmas firecracker. But, the next morning they awoke to discover that the most explosive bomb since Hiroshima had been detonated in the midst of their quiet orange groves.
Dead was Harry T. Moore, head of Florida's NAACP. Dying was his wife, Harriet.
A white man who came to see the wreckage of the little frame cottage where the Moore's lived remarked: "That's one coon who will keep his mouth shut."
Moore's mouth was indeed shut forever. But, the bomb that rocked his home and took his life was heard around the world.
Echoes of the explosion reverberated from Rangoon to Rio, from Moscow to Mexico City until the blast in the little Florida town of Mims (pop. 1,081) became the most publicized since the atom bomb was dropped on Japan.
Its toll was only two people ‚ a shy, graying, scholarly school teacher and his wife ‚ but the symbolic significance of their deaths was world wide in its import. Harry Tyson Moore was a man who ground out handouts about equal education on his mimeograph machine in his small six-room cottage, drove his new Buick around the state to talk about civil rights and attended NAACP meetings where he became so active he was named state had of the organization. He was killed for that.
The world quickly took note. In Asia and Africa, Moore's slaying in a nation that called itself the world's greatest democracy became front page news. Newspapers in France and Brazil, in Israel and the Philippines editorialized about the death of Moore. In the world forum of the United Nations, Russia's foreign Minister Andrei Vishiosky was quick to throw the Moore murder in the faces of American delegates ‚ including one Negro delegate, Channing Tobias. Behind the iron curtain, the Communists had a field day with dispatches from the Russian Tass news agency with details of the Moore slaying.
America's foremost delegate to the UN, Eleanor Roosevelt, admitted: "That kind of violent incident will be spread all over every country in the world and the harm it will do us among the people of the world is untold."
Over decent Americans, a pall of shame settled. More sermons were preached, more resolutions adopted and more protest telegrams and letters sent about the Moore killing than about any other racial event in a decade. America accepted the castigation of the world and vowed that it would try to do better.
The bomb and its world repercussions symbolized dramatically a new era in U. S. Race relations. For today America can no longer say that its race problem is its own affair. The bomb demonstrated conclusively that U. S. Racists must answer to a new judge and jury ‚ world opinion.
Gov. Adlai Stevenson succinctly stated the new concept in an address to the National Urban League when he said: "The ramparts of democracy are not only in Korea nor along the Western European defense line ‚ they are in Cicero, in Miami and Birmingham."
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