Richard B. Moore

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Richard Benjamin Moore (9 August 1893 – 1978) was a Barbados-born African-Caribbean civil rights activist and prominent Socialist. He was also one of the earlier advocates of the term African American as opposed to Negro, or "black".[1]


Early years[edit]

Richard Benjamin Moore was a Barbadian writer born on 9 August 1893 in Barbados, West Indies, to Richard Henry Moore and Josephine Thorne Moore. In Barbados, the Richard Henry and Josephine Moore family was considered middle-class in terms of socioeconomic status. Richard Henry Moore was the moneymaker of the family, working as a preacher and building contractor in Barbados. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when Richard B. Moore’s mother died when he was three years old. Moore’s father later remarried, to Elizabeth Mclean. Soon thereafter, Moore’s father died in 1902 when young Richard was aged nine. With both biological parents dead, Moore was raised by his stepmother Elizabeth Mclean.

Mclean wanted to carry out Richard senior’s wishes of giving young Richard the best education. It is for this reason that Mclean aided young Richard in traveling to the United States. In hopes of furthering his education, Moore migrated to The United States of America and arrived in New York City on 4 July 1909. However, Moore would not become a naturalised citizen until 11 September 1924. Although African Americans were free in the United States, they were far from being treated equal to European-Americans in America. Moore was immediately faced with ethnic discrimination when it came to employment and educational opportunities among other things. Although trained in Barbados to do clerical work, he was forced to turn to the more unfavourable jobs such as elevator operator and work in a silk manufacturing firm.

Political activism[edit]

Due to the struggles that Moore encountered and observed, he became a strong vocalist for the rights of African Americans. In 1919 he joined the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB), which was an organization formed to defend African Americans from race riots and lynching. Moore, along with other African-American advocates, joined the Socialist Party in the early 1920s. Moore joined the Socialist Party, in part, because at the time the Socialist party was transforming itself into a force to fight against segregation.

Moore was a frequent political candidate of the Socialist Party. In 1928 he ran for U.S. Congress in New York's 21st Congressional District.[2] In 1934, Moore ran on the Socialist ticket for Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals. In 1935, he became the organiser for the International Labor Defense in the New England Territory. He used his position in this organisation to speak on behalf the Scottsboro Boys, a case in which nine young African-American males were accused of raping two young European-American women.

In 1942, Moore was expelled from the Socialist Party because he was accused of being an African-American nationalist; keeping African-American issues on the front burner.

He continued his efforts for equal rights in America. He also played a leading role in Caribbean advocacy groups. Moore, like his friend Hubert Harrison, was a bibliophile, collecting over 15,000 books and pamphlets on the African-American experiences worldwide. This collection of books is currently housed in a library that Moore developed in Barbados. Moore also ran the Frederick Douglass Book Center in Harlem.

Moore wrote a few books himself, including The Name Negro, Its Origin and Evil Use (1960) and Caribs, Cannibals and Human Relations (1972). He also had essays and articles published in various magazines and journals including the Negro Champion, Daily Worker, and Freedomways.

Death and legacy[edit]

Richard Benjamin Moore died in his homeland of Barbados in 1978 at the age of 85.


  1. ^ Richard B. Moore, The Name "Negro": Its Origin and Evil Use (1960), Baltimore, MD: Black Classic Press, 1992.
  2. ^ "Red Ticket Goes on Ballot in NY State", Daily Worker, vol. 5, no. 241 (11 October 1928), p. 3.

Further reading[edit]

Joyce Moore Turner and W. Burghart Turner, "Richard B. Moore: Caribbean Militant in Harlem." Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988. Joyce Moore Turner, "Caribbean Crusaders and the Harlem Renaissance." Urbana: Illinois Press, 2005.

External links[edit]