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Sun, 08.09.1885

Richard B. Moore, Businessman, and Activist

Richard B. Moore

*On this date, in 1885, Richard B. Moore was born. He was a Black activist and businessman.

From Barbados, he emigrated to New York, working as an office boy, elevator operator, and for a silk manufacturing firm.  The racism Moore encountered in America prompted him to a life of activism.  In 1915, he founded and was treasurer of the Pioneer Cooperative Society, a grocery store that featured West Indian products.  Moore was self-educated and began to collect an extensive library of literature.

He eventually created the People’s Educational Forum (later the Harlem Educational Forum), a think tank that, among other things, organized debates and lectures.  He was a member of the Socialist Party from 1918 to 1921, leaving due to bitterness over their neglect of Blacks.  Moore was elected to the executive board of the American Negro Labor Congress (ANLC) in 1925. Two years later, he drafted the Common Resolution on the Negro Question at the International Congress Against Colonial Oppression and Imperialism in Brussels, Belgium; the resolution was unanimously adopted. He served as a strong political voice during the Harlem Renaissance.

He was instrumental in the Scottsboro Boys case during the 1930s while vice president of the International Labor Defense (ILD).  In February 1940, Moore founded the Pathway Press and the Frederick Douglass Historical and Cultural League; publishing the Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1892), which had been out of print for forty years. In the 1960s, Moore created the Committee to present the truth about the Name Negro. He also published the Name “Negro”-Its Origin and Evil Use as part of his campaign to promote the adoption of “Afro American” as the preferred designation of black people.

Although he continued his primary residence in New York City, he spent more time in the land of his birth.  Richard Moore died in Barbados in 1978.


The Encyclopedia of African American Heritage
by Susan Altman
Copyright 1997, Facts on File, Inc. New York
ISBN 0-8160-3289-0

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