"The Price For Freedom" The First Civil Rights Martyrs Story To Be Filmed In Davie

June 30, 2022

There are many well-known figures whose names have become synonymous with the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century. Many that have truly paid “The Price for Freedom”. Martin Luther King Jr. Rosa Parks. Malcolm X. Medgar Evans. Emmett Till. The list sadly goes on. Two names that are not as easily recognized by most are the very first martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement – and the only married couple to be assassinated for the cause. Educator, activists, and Civil Rights Leaders Harry T. Moore and his wife Harriette V. S. Moore.

Telling Their Story
Top Cat II Productions has begun pre-production of a Mario Van Peebles Film entitled The Price For Freedom, the true story of NAACP organizer Harry T. Moore and his wife Harriette, who were the only husband and wife to give their lives to the movement when a bomb exploded under their bedroom floor killing them as they slept on Christmas evening at 10:30 p.m. in 1951. No one was ever convicted of their murder.

The film is directed by Mario Van Peebles (Wu-Tang: An American Saga, Empire, The Last Ship, Sons of Anarchy) who stars as Moore opposite Aisha Jackson, the first Black actor to portray the role of Anna in Frozen on Broadway. Van Peebles’ many film roles include his critically acclaimed performance as another civil rights icon, Malcolm X, in the Oscar® nominated Ali. The cast is rounded out by three-time Emmy® winner Keith David (Greenleaf), Kevin Sorbo (Soul Surfer, God's Not Dead, Faith Under Fire) and Harry Lennix (The Blacklist).

The screenplay by John Didonna and Walter T. Shaw is inspired by The Bomb Heard Around the World and explores the mystery behind the Moores’ slayings. Filming will take place for six weeks in Davie, Florida starting late July 2022 in an orange grove setting that strongly resembles the Mims, Florida home in Brevard County where the Moores worked, lived and died. Top Cat II Productions will complete exterior and interior shots with three specially constructed sets that replicate the Moores’ home.

“Nineteen years before passage of the Civil Rights Act, Harry T. Moore launched voter registration drives in Florida that increased Black registered voters from 5% to 37%,” noted Van Peebles. “His slogan was ‘A Voteless Citizen is a Voiceless Citizen,’ and that message and his commitment is extremely relevant today as Florida and states across the country enact legislation that could limit Black participation at the polls.”

Shaw, who heads Top Cat II Productions with Diana Ross-Shaw, had created a curriculum, written by Erica Fix, about the Moores to be used in Florida schools that now faces some uncertainty due to a new Florida law commonly referred to as the “Stop WOKE Act,” that restricts how racial history and issues may be addressed in classrooms.

“Harry and Harriette Moore were Florida school teachers for more than a decade and both were fired due to their Civil Rights Activism,” Shaw said. “It is incomprehensible and infuriating to me that students in Florida classrooms may not be allowed to learn of their history and, indeed, much of the history of the Civil Rights Movement. It underscores the need for this film and I continue to work with a task force to allow this to be part of the curriculum.”

Activists & Advocators
The Moores were the first true Civil Rights Activists of the modern Civil Rights Era in the State of Florida. Harry organized the first Brevard County Branch of the NAACP in 1934 and became its President. He would later coordinate chapters throughout the State, and in 1941 became President of the Florida Conference of NAACP Branches.

In 1944 Moore formed the Florida Progressive Voter's League and became its Executive Director. The league was instrumental in helping register over 100,000 black voters in the State of Florida.

As the head of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, Harry T. Moore led the fight against injustices on behalf of the state's African American population on a number of fronts, including voting rights and the equalization of pay for the state's black teachers.

Significantly, Moore also served as a forceful advocate against racial violence and lynching in Florida. His efforts in bringing attention to the lynching of the African American teenager Willie James Howard in 1944 and to the miscarriage of justice in the Groveland Rape case in 1949 are vivid examples of his activism on this front. Moore's vocal criticism of the failures of the criminal justice system—especially the ineptitude and complicity of law enforcement and the racism that permeated the courts—offered a much-needed critique of the tragic intersection of Jim Crow and civil rights violations.

The Day They Were Slain
At 10:20pm, on a foggy December 25th in 1951, a bomb exploded under their small shotgun style home on the outskirts of Mims, Florida – directly under their bedroom. It was both Christmas day, and Harry and Harriette’s 25th wedding anniversary.

Harry T. Moore died on his way to the hospital in Sanford, FL in a car being driven by his brother-in-law George Simms. Harriet’s death came 9 days later, just after saying final goodbyes to her husband at the mortuary.

The story of the Moores is one that is equal parts civil rights history, and a personal tale of love, commitment and family. Sadly, it is a story that has for decades receded into dim memory. And yet the voices of these two pioneering leaders in the early struggle for civil rights call out through the decades not to be forgotten.

The Price For Freedom has music by Mervyn Warren, music supervision by Linda Cohen and production design by Jerry Blohm. The film has not finalized distribution as pre-production begins. For more information visit: www.ThePriceForFreedom.com or for the Moore Memorial Museum and Park visit: https://www.harryharriettemoore.org/