Harold Moss

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Harold Moss
Harold Moss 04B.jpg
Born 1929
Occupation Politician
Years active 1950-2007
Known for First African American member of Tacoma, Washington's City Council.

Harold Moss (born 1929) is an American politician, whose political career has taken place in Tacoma, Washington.[1] He was the first African American member of that city's city council,[1][2][3] its first African American mayor,[1][2][3] and the first African American member of the Pierce County Council.[1][3] Moss's wife, Bil Moss, has also served on the Tacoma City Council.[4]

Originally from Texas[5] by way of Michigan,[6] Moss arrived in Tacoma during the Korean War as a member of the National Guard.[6] He first became politically active in the 1950s as a member of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He served two terms as branch president, served on Tacoma's first Human Relations Commission (later Human Rights Commission), and in 1968, Moss helped create the Tacoma Urban League[1][7] and played a key role in securing public funding for its Urban Services Center.[7]

Moss was a dental technician,[8] and ran a business, Northwest Porcelain Studios. He left this business in the hands of his assistants when he was hired by the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce and the Tacoma Area Coalition in the spring of 1968 to run the Central Area Employment Office, soliciting jobs for disadvantaged Tacoma-area residents, including the hardcore unemployed.[9] He entered electoral politics in 1969 as an unsuccessful candidate for the Tacoma City Council.[1] A year later, five council members were recalled, and Moss was appointed to a seat,[1][3] which he took on October 13, 1970.[3] He was elected to a full term in 1971,[1][3] remaining also a full-time employee of the Urban League throughout this period.[1] Urban League National Executive Director Vernon Jordan asked Moss to step down from his elected position in 1975 to avoid compromising the League's non-profit status.[1]

In a September 1978 domestic argument, Moss shot his son in the shoulder with a .38-caliber revolver. "My son was very high at the time," he later said. No charges were ever pressed, and the two later reconciled.[10]

By 1983, Moss was no longer affiliated with the Urban League. That year he ran unsuccessfully for city council.[1] In February 1987 he was appointed to fill a council vacancy,[3][11] ran that fall for a full term, won, and was reelected in 1991.[1][12] In January 1994, Tacoma mayor Jack Hyde suffered a fatal heart attack nearly at the start of his term.[1][2] Moss, serving as deputy mayor at the time,[1][13] was appointed mayor[1][2] and served for two years.[1] During his administration, Tacoma adopted a youth curfew law.[14] Because the mayor is considered part of the city council, term limits prevented him from running as an incumbent in the 1995 election.[12] During this period, Moss also worked as a civil-rights manager for the Washington State Department of Transportation, handling the council and mayoralty as a part-time job.[5][12]

Moss was subsequently elected to the Pierce County Council, serving January 1, 1997 – December 31, 2004,[1][15] including as council chair from 2002 to 2004, at which time he announced his retirement.[1] He ran unsuccessfully for the Tacoma mayoralty in 2001[4] and came out of that retirement in 2007 to run again for the Tacoma City Council against incumbent Spiro Manthou. Manthou defeated him at the polls.[1]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Cory Campbell, "Moss, Harold (1929- )", Blackpast.org. Accessed online 6 February 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d P-I Staff and News Services, Unanimous Council Vote for Moss as New Mayor, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 26, 1994, p. B2. Accessed online 6 February 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Notes for Series: TRUEBLOOD Image#: 1986 Date: 10-13-1970, Tacoma Public Library Image Archives. Accessed online 6 February 2009.
  4. ^ a b Candace Heckman, Pierce County: Baarsma leads for mayor of Tacoma, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 7, 2001. Accessed online 6 February 2009.
  5. ^ a b AP (Associated Press), Moss In Line To Be Tacoma's Mayor, Seattle Times, January 25, 1994. Accessed online 6 February 2009.
  6. ^ a b Peter Callaghan, Tacoma’s civil rights struggle on display, Tacoma News-Tribune, September 16, 2008. Accessed online 6 February 2009.
  7. ^ a b Debbie Abe, "Nordstrom to Honor Tacoma Mayor", Tacoma News Tribune, September 21, 1995., p. B5.
  8. ^ George Foster, [Moss and Vialle Lead in Tacoma], Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 4, 1987, p. A6. Accessed online 6 February 2009.
  9. ^ Notes for Series: D154074 Image#: 3R and Image#: 4R Date: 05-07-1968, Tacoma Public Library Image Archives. Accessed online 6 February 2009.
  10. ^ John Hessburg, [Minority-Conscious Tacoma Council Set To Pick Black Member], Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 5, 1987, p. A6. Accessed online 6 February 2009.
  11. ^ George Foster, New City Councilman Harold Moss Making Big 'Comeback' in Tacoma, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 16, 1987, p. A4. Accessed online 6 February 2009.
  12. ^ a b c Don Carter, In Line for Mayor of Tacoma; City Council Vote Likely To Be Unanimous for Moss, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 25, 1994, p. B1. Accessed online 6 February 2009.
  13. ^ Jack Hopkins, Tacoma Mayor Hyde Dies, Apparently of a Heart Attack, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 18, 1994, p. A1. Accessed online 6 February 2009.
  14. ^ P-I Staff and News Services, Police Cram to Get Ready For City's New Curfew Law, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 30, 1994, p. B2. Accessed online 6 February 2009.
  15. ^ Council District Four, Pierce County Washington. Accessed online 6 February 2009.

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