Thursday, January 12, 2006

Remembering Dr. King

The phone rang last month, and the voice on the other end said, "This is Reverend Douglas Moore...." It got no further because I interrupted with "Wow."

He chuckled and said, "You know my name?" Reverend Moore went on to tell me that he noticed that he has been cropped out of a photo in one of our brochures, and since he’s writing a book, a lot of which takes place in Durham, he wondered if he could be reinstated.

I told him it was probably inadvertent as redesigns took place but he was if anything the subject of the photo. Reverend Moore now lives in Washington, D.C., and was formerly an elected official there.

He’s a hero of mine, as is Dr. King, because Moore, along with the late Judge McKissick, used Boy Scout and ROTC training methods in the basements of five, activist Durham churches to train students from several states on how to conduct sit-ins to effect desegregation of lunch counters and other facilities through the late '50s and early '60s.

In fact, Dr. Aldon Morris at Northwestern University, wrote a book noting that the sit-in in Greensboro, often heralded by the news media as the first, was no where near first, and the students were trained by Moore here in Durham. The Associated Press caught on to the movement when Greensboro happened, and for some reason, it was anointed "first."

But the other reason Reverend Moore is so significant is that, as the movement accelerated, he persuaded Dr. King, during a trip to Durham, to embrace "direct actions" like this. Prior to this Dr. King was a pacifist. King and Moore were graduate school classmates in Boston. Dr. King was the studious one, and according to Moore himself and others, Moore was the rabble-rouser.

So in no small way, Durham played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement, one that is slowly coming to the forefront.

In the meantime, you can be sure Reverend Moore’s back in every photo possible.

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