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Video

Cecil B Moore's speech at Girard College

Watch it on Temple University’s website

Charles Barkley's
Black History Month All Stars

All Star #11: Cecil B. Moore

I speak at a lot of schools across the country, and I’ve encountered a trend that drives me freakin’ nuts. I always ask students the following question:

“How many of you want to be a professional athlete or a rapper?”

At inner-city, mostly African American schools, nearly every hand shoots up. When I ask the same question in a white suburban school, maybe 10 percent of hands are raised. I speak to a lot of schools, and this happens without fail.

I tell black kids all the time, “You ain’t gonna be me.” Even if you’re any good on the court, the odds are stacked against you. But I can tell from the blank way they look back at me: They’re putting all their eggs in this totally unlikely basket. But I get why. Young black kids get from the media an unrealistic picture of African American success. Athletes and rappers, with Denzel and Oprah thrown in.

So to mark Black History Month here at The Citizen, I’m going to introduce you every day to my Philadelphia Black History Month All-Stars. Many of them didn’t make it into the history books or even the newspapers of their time. But their stories are inspiring and worth knowing.

11

Cecil B. Moore

Civil Rights Activist

Cecil B. Moore

Civil Rights Activist

(April 2, 1915 - February 13, 1979)

An activist, lawyer, councilmember and sergeant, Moore lived a never-ending fight—one often for social justice and civil rights. “After nine years in the Marine Corps, I don’t intend to take another order from any son of a bitch that walks,” he once said. And that he didn’t. Most famously, he led a group of protesters at Girard College in 1965 to push for the school’s integration. In May of 1963, Moore organized a several weeklong picket line at the Municipal Services Building to fight for desegregated trade unions. Soon after, he picketed against the Trailways Bus Terminal, demanding that they hire black workers. Meanwhile, he advocated for more civic engagement from African Americans and held his own voter registration drives. Though sometimes controversial for his unrelenting style, Moore was a force for change in civil society.

EDUCATION:

  • Bluefield College
  • Temple Law, L.L.B 1953

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

  • President of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP 1962-1967
  • City Councilmember 1976-1979
  • Achieved rank of sergeant in Military Marine Corps
  • Columbia Avenue in North Philadelphia renamed Cecil B. Moore Avenue in 1987, followed in 1995 by the SEPTA stop at 1700 North Broad Street

 

FINAL WORD:

“I said to hell with the club, let’s fight the damn system. I don’t want no more than the white man got, but I won’t take no less,” Moore said.

Photo via Temple University Libraries, Urban Archives. Header Photo © 2001 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Don Gensler. Photo by Jack Ramsdale

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