Cecil B. Moore

Last updated
Cecil B. Moore
Member of the Philadelphia City Council from the 5th District
In office
January 5, 1976 February 13, 1979
Preceded by Ethel D. Allen
Succeeded by John Street
Personal details
Born
Cecil Bassett Moore

(1915-04-02)April 2, 1915
West Virginia
DiedFebruary 15, 1979(1979-02-15) (aged 63)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Alma mater Temple University
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service Marine
Battles/wars World War II

Cecil Bassett Moore (April 2, 1915 February 13, 1979) was a Philadelphia lawyer, politician and civil rights activist who led the fight to integrate Girard College, president of the local NAACP, and member of Philadelphia's city council. [1]

Contents

Biography

Born in West Virginia, Moore served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. In 1947, after his discharge at Fort Mifflin, he moved to Philadelphia and studied law at Temple University. Moore attended school at night and financed his studies with a job as a liquor wholesaler.

Moore cultivated ties with the bar owners to whom he sold his wares and they became an important basis for his political constituency later in his career. He earned a reputation as a no-nonsense lawyer who fought on behalf of his mostly poor, African-American clients concentrated in North Philadelphia. His cases often concerned police brutality, which brought him into conflict with police commander and later police chief, Frank Rizzo. From 1963 to 1967, he served as president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP. He also served on the Philadelphia City Council. [2]

An advocate of militant protest, Moore organized demonstrations against workplace discrimination at construction sites in Philadelphia in 1963 and 1964, [3] and is best remembered for leading a picket against Girard College in 1964, which hastened the desegregation of that school. [4] He was a champion of a wide range of causes central to the Civil Rights Movement, including integration of schools and trade unions, police brutality, and increased political and economic representation for poor African Americans. He attempted to restore order after the unsettling vandalism and violence of the Columbia Avenue riot of 1964.

Moore's aggressive manner and confrontational tactics alienated many leaders, black and white, including many within the NAACP who preferred negotiation "behind closed doors" over direct action. He was a fierce critic of established civil rights leaders in Philadelphia, including lawyers A. Leon Higginbotham and Raymond Pace Alexander, and led a successful insurgency to take over the NAACP branch in 1963. [5] Moore recruited NAACP members in working-class neighborhoods, but his harsh criticism of the black bourgeoisie and of white philanthropists led to a decline in their support for the branch under his leadership. [6] The rifts brought friction with the national NAACP which undercut Moore's power by splitting the Philadelphia chapter into three sub-branches. [7]

Moore also gravitated toward black power in the mid-1960s. He acknowledged how his military service shaped his grassroots activism: "I was determined when I got back [from World War II combat] that what rights I didn't have I was going to take, using every weapon in the arsenal of democracy. After nine years in the Marine Corps, I don't intend to take another order from any son of a bitch that walks." [8] Moore actively discouraged Martin Luther King Jr. from visiting Philadelphia [9] and he was one of the first civil rights leaders to have welcomed Malcolm X's growing role in the national movement. [10]

Moore's fiery rhetoric and confrontational style helped him cultivate a working-class constituency which enabled him to run independent black political campaigns outside the white establishment and traditional middle-class black networks. [11] In 1967, he ran an unsuccesful campaign for mayor and in 1975, Moore sought the Fifth District seat on the Philadelphia City Council, after incumbent Councilwoman Ethel D. Allen announced she would vacate the seat, and seek re-election to an at-large seat. Moore would go on to win the election. As Moore was nearing the end of his first term, attorney John Street announced his intention to challenge Moore for his seat in the 1979 election. While Moore was, by that time, in failing health, he initially vowed to see-off the challenge from Street. However, he died before the May primary. Street went on to win the election, and quelled some of the tensions over his original challenge to Moore by sponsoring a bill to rename the former Columbia Avenue in Moore's honor. [12]

Over time, appreciation for Moore has grown beyond the working poor with whom he long enjoyed popularity, and he is cited as a pivotal figure in the fields of social justice and race relations. [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

Civil rights movement 1954—1968 U.S. social movement against legal racial discrimination

The 1954–1968 civil rights movement in the United States was preceded by a decades-long campaign by African Americans and their like-minded allies to end legalized racial discrimination, disenfranchisement and racial segregation in the United States. The movement has its origins in the Reconstruction era during the late 19th century, although it made its largest legislative gains in the mid-1960s after years of direct actions and grassroots protests. The social movement's major nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience campaigns eventually secured new protections in federal law for the human rights of all Americans.

Montgomery bus boycott Protest against racial segregation

The Montgomery bus boycott was a political and a social protest campaign against the policy of racial segregation on the public transit system of Montgomery, Alabama. It was a foundational event in the civil rights movement in the United States. The campaign lasted from December 5, 1955—the Monday after Rosa Parks, an African-American woman, was arrested for her refusal to surrender her seat to a white person—to December 20, 1956, when the federal ruling Browder v. Gayle took effect, and led to a United States Supreme Court decision that declared the Alabama and Montgomery laws that segregated buses were unconstitutional.

Southern Christian Leadership Conference African-American civil rights organization

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is an African-American civil rights organization. SCLC is closely associated with its first president, Martin Luther King Jr., who had a large role in the American civil rights movement.

Daisy Bates (activist) American civil rights activist

Daisy Bates was an American civil rights activist, publisher, journalist, and lecturer who played a leading role in the Little Rock Integration Crisis of 1957.

Girard College Independent, boarding school

Girard College is an independent college preparatory five-day boarding school located on a 43-acre campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the eastern United States. The school was founded and permanently endowed from the shipping and banking fortune of Stephen Girard after his death in 1831.

The Philadelphia race riot, or Columbia Avenue Riot, took place in the predominantly black neighborhoods of North Philadelphia from August 28 to August 30, 1964. Tensions between black residents of the city and police had been escalating for several months over several well-publicized allegations of police brutality.

Cecil B. Moore, Philadelphia Neighborhood of Philadelphia in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States

Cecil B. Moore is a neighborhood in the North Philadelphia section of the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The district is loosely arranged around the main campus of Temple University. The neighborhood has gentrified due to an influx of Temple students during the past several years. The controversial term “Templetown” was coined by former Temple president Peter J. Liacouras, but has only recently come into wide use after a real estate development company adopted the name. "Cecil B. Moore" Avenue also refers to the street running parallel to Oxford and Montgomery, intersecting with N. Broad Street.

Birmingham campaign American civil rights campaign in Alabama

The Birmingham campaign, also known as the Birmingham movement or Birmingham confrontation, was an American movement organized in early 1963 by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to bring attention to the integration efforts of African Americans in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Albany Movement was a desegregation and voters' rights coalition formed in Albany, Georgia, in November 1961. This movement was founded by local black leaders and ministers, as well as members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). This group has been assisted by Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). This was meant to draw attention to the brutally enforced racial segregation practices in Southwest Georgia. However, many leaders in SNCC were fundamentally opposed to King and the SCLC's involvement. They felt that a more democratic approach aimed at long-term solutions was preferable for the area other than King's tendency towards short-term, authoritatively-run organizing.

Marie A. Hicks was an African-American activist during the American civil rights movement. Nicknamed "the Rosa Parks of Girard College," she is best known for leading thousands of pickets around the wall of that academic institution during the mid-1960s. Her efforts led to her sons being enrolled in the formerly all-white school in 1968.

Douglas E. Moore was a Methodist minister who organized the 1957 Royal Ice Cream Sit-in in Durham, North Carolina. Moore entered the ministry at a young age. After finding himself dissatisfied with what he perceived as a lack of action among his divinity peers, he decided to take a more activist course. Shortly after becoming a pastor in Durham, Moore decided to challenge the city's power structure via the Royal Ice Cream Sit-in, a protest in which he and several others sat down in the white section of an ice cream parlor and asked to be served. The sit-in failed to challenge segregation in the short run, and Moore's actions provoked a myriad of negative reactions from many white and African-American leaders, who considered his efforts far too radical. Nevertheless, Moore continued to press forward with his agenda of activism.

NAACP Civil rights organization in the United States

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as an interracial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group including W. E. B. Du Bois, Mary White Ovington, Moorfield Storey and Ida B. Wells.

Golden Frinks

Golden Asro Frinks was an American civil rights activist and a Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) field secretary who represented the New Bern, North Carolina SCLC chapter. He is best known as a principal civil rights organizer in North Carolina during the 1960s which landed him a reputation as "The Great Agitator", having been jailed eighty-seven times during his lifetime.

Raymond Pace Alexander African American civil rights leader, lawyer, judge and politician

Raymond Pace Alexander was a civil rights leader, lawyer, politician, and the first African American judge appointed to the Pennsylvania Courts of Common Pleas. In 1920, he became the first black graduate of the Wharton School of Business. After graduation from Harvard Law School in 1923, Alexander became one of the leading civil rights attorneys in Philadelphia. He represented black defendants in high-profile cases, including the Trenton Six, a group of black men arrested for murder in Trenton, New Jersey. Alexander also entered the political realm, unsuccessfully running for judge several times. He finally ran for, and won, a seat on the Philadelphia City Council in 1951. After two terms in City Council, Alexander was appointed as the first black judge to sit on the Court of Common Pleas, where he served until his death in 1974.

This is a timeline of the 1947 to 1968 civil rights movement in the United States, a nonviolent mid-20th century freedom movement to gain legal equality and the enforcement of constitutional rights for People of Color. The goals of the movement included securing equal protection under the law, ending legally established racial discrimination, and gaining equal access to public facilities, education reform, fair housing, and the ability to vote.

Thomas McIntosh (politician)

Thomas McIntosh was a Democratic politician from Philadelphia who served three terms on the Philadelphia City Council.

Stanley E. Branche was a civil rights leader from Pennsylvania who worked as executive secretary in the Chester, Pennsylvania branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and founded the Committee for Freedom Now (CFFN).

James G. Spady

James G. Spady was an American Book Award-winning writer, historian, and journalist. Over his fifty-year career, Spady authored and edited numerous books, worked in radio, television, and film, wrote hundreds of newspaper articles for various print media, and received the National Newspaper Publishers Association's Meritorious Award.

Prior to the civil rights movement in South Carolina, African Americans in the state had very few political rights. South Carolina briefly had a majority-black government during the Reconstruction era after the Civil War, but with the 1876 inauguration of Governor Wade Hampton III, a Democrat who supported the disenfranchisement of blacks, African Americans in South Carolina struggled to exercise their rights. Poll taxes, literacy tests, and intimidation kept African Americans from voting, and it was virtually impossible for someone to challenge the Democratic Party, which ran unopposed in most state elections for decades. By 1940, the voter registration provisions written into the 1895 constitution effectively limited African-American voters to 3,000—only 0.8 percent of those of voting age in the state. Jim Crow laws, legalized by the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), created a district color line across the South. African Americans were prohibited from using the same facilities as white Americans, and African-American children were prohibited from attending white schools; schools meant for colored children were typical of lower quality than white schools. Public segregation and voting restrictions were eventually reversed after the events of the civil rights movement in South Carolina and the United States during the 1950s and the 1960s.

References

  1. "Branch History". The Free Library of Philadelphia. Archived from the original on October 1, 2010. Retrieved November 23, 2010.
  2. Willis, Arthur C., Cecil's City: A History of Blacks in Philadelphia, 1638-1979, Carlton Press, 1990.
  3. Countryman, Matthew, Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.
  4. The Desegregation of Girard College, , Civil Rights in a Northern City, Temple University Libraries.
  5. Sugrue, Thomas J., The 'Goddamned Boss: Cecil B. Moore, Philadelphia, and the Reshaping of Black Urban Politics, in Arsenault, Raymond and Orville Vernon Burton, Dixie Redux: Essays in Honor of Sheldon Hackney, New South Press, 2013.
  6. Countryman, Matthew, Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.
  7. Borden, Sara A., "Cecil B. Moore" Archived 2015-06-04 at the Wayback Machine Civil Rights in a Northern City, Temple University Libraries.
  8. CITATION NEEDED.
  9. Garrow, David, Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Open Road Media, 2015
  10. Clayborne Carson, Malcolm X: The FBI File Skyhorse Publishing, 2013, p. 37.
  11. Countryman, Matthew, Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.
  12. Goss, Scott. "City". News and Opinion. Philadelphia Weekly. Archived from the original on January 31, 2013. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
  13. Early, Gerald, This is Where I Came In: Black America in the 1960s, University of Nebraska Press, 2003