Amzie Moore Papers, 1941-1970


Amzie Moore, one of the earliest black civil rights proponents and activists in Mississippi, was born September 23, 1912 in Grenada, Mississippi. His educational background includes completion of two years work at Cleveland (Mississippi) High School (1937-1939), and several courses taken at Mississippi Vocational College. From 1935 until his induction into the Army in 1942, and again following his military service, Moore was a custodian at the Cleveland post office. During World War II, he served with military intelligence in Burma, India, and China, and was discharged with the rank of corporal in January 1946. In 1954 Moore built a combination service station, cafe, and beauty shop in Cleveland, which he operated in conjunction with his wife, Ruth Carey Moore. Moore also owned rental property in Cleveland, and with C. M. Watson, owned the W&M Grocery Store until November 1957. For over a decade, Moore was an agent for the Royal Funeral System.

In addition to his regular employment and many business enterprises, Moore was extremely involved in church, civic and social, and civil rights work. He served for many years as president of the Cleveland branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which he joined in the 1950s, and was also active in the Mississippi State Conference of Branches. Moore was always interested in promoting the welfare of members of his race; in 1951 he helped organize the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, to unify and improve Negro leadership in the Mississippi Delta. He was a member of the Mississippi State Advisory Committee of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (1968-1969); active in local and state Democratic Party politics, including serving as chairman of the Bolivar County Democratic Party, and was also a supporter of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. On June 1-2, 1966, Moore attended the White House civil rights conference, “To Fulfill These Rights.”

Among the other positions which Moore held were: member (1965), Mississippi chairman (1967), and chairman of the executive committee (1967) of the Delta Ministry of the United Church of Christ; member of the Delta Opportunity Corporation of the Delta Ministry; founding member of the Association of Communities of Bolivar County (ACBC); community chairman for Cleveland for the Child Development Group of Mississippi (CDGM), and its affiliate, Head Start; director and treasurer of Mississippi Action for Community Education (MACE), 1966-1969, which was also an offshoot of CDGM; director of voter registration projects for the Mississippi Adult Education Program; fundraiser and local contact for Operation Freedom, Cincinnati, Ohio; and director of the Mound Bayou (Mississippi) Community Hospital, 1967-1968. Moore was a dean of the St. Peter (or Peter's) Rock Baptist Church in Cleveland, and also taught religious classes with his wife. He sang with the Foregate Harmonizers gospel singers group.

It appears that Moore was involved in all civil rights and anti-poverty work in Cleveland and the surrounding area. He served as local director or organizer for all federal government-funded programs, as well as working with housing and supporting volunteers from such civil rights organizations as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Congress of Racial Equality, Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Southern Conference Educational Fund. Interpretation of his fragmentary records concerning Operation Freedom; lists of clothing, food, and other needs; affidavits of discriminatory treatment: and the correspondence of other individuals (as found in Box 2, Folder 3), suggests that Moore was the commanding figure in the black community. At some cost to himself and his family--as his financial records and correspondence with creditors reveal--Moore must have given substantial amounts of money, clothing, and food to many poor people. He seems to have served as liaison between individuals and foundations or government agencies, and advocate and letter-writer for the illiterate poor. As a result, he was unable to obtain local financing and insurance for his business, and in 1958, his hours at the Post Office were suddenly halved without justification, according to Moore. He continued working there until a proposed further reduction in 1967 caused him to retire. In addition to his service station, Moore's other sources of income during the later 1960s included the consulting fees and expense monies paid him by the Congress of Racial Equality, Citizen's Crusade Against Poverty, and the National Council of the Churches of Christ.

Amzie Moore still lives in Cleveland, Mississippi, and remains active in civic and civil rights work. In 1960 he was divorced from his wife Ruth, and in 1968 he married Mary Lee Roy. Amzie Moore is the father of four children.