Amzie Moore photographed in 1963 by Harvey Richards.
|Born||September 23, 1911|
|Died||February 1, 1982(aged 70)|
Left on his own at fourteen after his mother died in 1925, Moore completed high school but could not realize his dream of a college education. Through the rest of his life, however, he worked hard to educate himself. By 1935 he had gained a federal job in the U. S. Post Office, considered a lucky opportunity during the Great Depression.
Even before leaving Mississippi to fight in World War II, Moore was involved in race relations. He served over three and a half years in the United States Army, including time overseas, before returning to his job at the post office.
After the war, Moore opened a gas station, beauty shop, and grocery store on Highway 61 in Cleveland, Mississippi. His business also served as headquarters for the area's civil rights efforts. At his gas station, which was one of the few owned by an African American, he refused to have separate white and black bathrooms.
Regional Council of Negro Leadership
Beginning in 1951, Moore, Aaron Henry and Medgar Evers worked with Dr. T.R.M. Howard, a self-made entrepreneur, fraternal organization leader, and surgeon, to build the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL). The RCNL sought to encourage entrepreneurship, self-help, and civil rights in the Delta. He participated in the RCNL's campaign to boycott gas stations that failed to provide restrooms for blacks. His gas station was one of the few that allowed blacks to use restrooms between Memphis and Vicksburg. During this period, Moore also belonged to the United Order of Friendship, a fraternal society headed by Howard to provide low-cost medical care to blacks.
In August 1955, as word first got out that Emmett Till was missing, Evers and Moore quickly became involved, disguising themselves as cotton pickers and going into the cotton fields searching for anything that would help find the young Delta visitor. Moore asserted, after collecting stories first hand from the field laborers, that whites had murdered thousands of blacks over the years and thrown their bodies into the region's swamps, rivers, and bayous.
Other Civil Rights Movement activism
Moore conceived of the voter registration campaign that was later the centerpiece of Freedom Summer in 1964. The local leader welcomed outside help including SNCC organizer Bob Moses, coming into the Delta from New York City to build the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee or SNCC. Moses later said that Moore was a guiding force from the start.
- David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito, Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howard's Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009)
- John Dittmer, Local People: the Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi (1994 book).
- Charles M. Payne, I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle or the MFS (1995 book).
- Beito, David and Linda (2009). Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howard's Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-03420-6.
- SNCC Digital Gateway: Amzie Moore, Documentary website created by the SNCC Legacy Project and Duke University, telling the story of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee & grassroots organizing from the inside-out