Remembering history:Marking Civil Rights murder, ferry site

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By Donna Thornton/News Editor

Marking history occupied the minds of local leaders this week, as there was discussion of historic markers of two sites: the location on U.S. 11 where a Baltimore civil rights marcher was killed and the site where the Hokes Bluff ferry used to dock.

Gadsden Council member Robert Avery noted that this year is the 50th anniversary of many pivotal events in the Civil Rights Movement, and tragically, in the murder of a civil rights activist who intended to pass through Etowah County.

William L. Moore didn’t make it out of the county alive.

Avery said there is interest in placing a historic marker on U.S. 11 in Attalla at the site where Moore was shot to death on April 23, 1963.

Moore was walking from Chattanooga, Tenn. to Jackson, Miss. to deliver a letter to the governor, urging an end to segregation.

He wore a sandwich-board sign reading “Equal Rights to All. Mississippi or Bust,” according to several published accounts.

He encountered rock-throwing and name-calling along the way, and in Attalla, he encountered someone who shot him twice at close range, killing him.

A DeKalb County man was arrested, but a grand jury did not indict him in the case. And no one was ever brought to trial for his slaying.

Moore’s death was the subject of an Investigation Discovery Injustice Files documentary in 2011, called “He Walked Alone.”

A marker honoring Moore was unveiled and displayed at the Greater Binghampton Transportation Center in Binghamton, N.Y., where Moore was born, on the 47th anniversary of his murder.

Avery said efforts to get a marker on U.S. 11 are in preliminary stages.

Anyone interested in assisting should contact Avery at home or through the Gadsden City Clerk’s office.

Etowah County Commissioner Tim Choate suggested the county investigate getting a historic mark at the site where the Hokes Bluff ferry docked for decades before it finally become financially unfeasible to operate it.

The ferry was removed from the water last month and hauled to Monroe County.

The commission talked about contacting Danny Crownover of the Etowah County Historical Commission for more detail about the history of the ferry and the possibility of seeking a marker.

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