Cecil B. Moore, Esq.
‘A Soldier for Justice’’
Cecil B. Moore was born in Dry Fork, West Virginia on April 02, 1915. He was an only son of a prominent school teacher and physician. He graduated from Gary High School; he then attended Bluefield State College and later West Virginia College. He went on to become an insurance agent, before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942, becoming a ‘Montford Point Marine’ in Montford Point N.C. He rose to the ranks of Sergeant Major in the Marines, the highest rank that a black man was allowed to attain, in which he served loyally for nine years including two years in the Pacific, during World War II. He later married Theresa Lee in 1946 and had three children.
In 1953 Cecil B. Moore graduated from Temple University Law School and later passed the bar exams to rise to prominence as an outstanding, superb, defense attorney, and public offender who championed the cause of Philadelphia’s most needy African Americans through the local chapter of the NAACP.
Throughout his astounding career, Cecil B. Moore garnered a wealth of experience in civil engagement, an extensive network of associates, and became a strong socially conscious community leader and a celebrated lawyer. He first formed a true grassroots movement in Philadelphia under his leadership and presidency of the NAACP local chapter in1962, the city branch became the largest in the nation, and membership rose in the first year from 6,000 to 32,000. He helped in registering 70,000 new voters, increasing the number of blacks employed in small businesses, picketing and protesting the hiring of blacks in government and private organizations, particularly amongst the U.S. Post Office and Trailways and Greyhound Bus Companies in 1963. He negotiated for the inclusion of blacks as drivers in airlines and sought to establish a desegregated Philadelphia and inclusion of a more Negro Leadership in the white dominated Philadelphia Council for Community Advancement (PCCA) and in the bloodiest battle of Strawberry Mansion Jr. High School on 31st & Dauphin.
He diligently fought for equality in employment, education, fair housing, public accommodations, jobs and union membership. However his greatest and most infamous fight was at ‘The Wall’ of Girard College on North Philly’s Girard Ave. A place some called Philadelphia’s ‘Berlin Wall’, ‘Jericho Walls’, and the ‘Freedom Walls’. Cecil B. Moore has once said that ’Girard must integrate or disintegrate’.
Cecil B. Moore led the fight beginning on May 1, 1965 to desegregate Girard College Private Institution to integrate poor blacks into the school, originally designated by its’ founder and upheld by the City of Philadelphia as a school for only poor, orphaned or fatherless white boys; a fight which included a strong core of dedicated young militants, who protested 24/7 at the Walls for 7 months and 17 days before finally winning a federal landmark court decision to integrate on March 23, 1968, with the first 4 black students selected to enter Girard College on September 11, 1968.
Cecil B. Moore was a well educated aristocrat; a courageous, consistent, and confrontational in his love of black pride, he believed in racial equality and the right of legal representation for the poor in Philadelphia. He served as a councilman in the 5th District in the City of Philadelphia from 1975 to his death in February 13, 1979.
The Subway stop, bus stops and street signs along Broad Street all bear his name; an honor for his contributions as a councilman to the city and the civil rights movement in Philadelphia; he is the only person to be named after any of Septa’s subway train stop. As a great civil rights leader he is credited for restoring race relations in Philadelphia in the place he has lived and tirelessly worked in the North Philly community. His historic house can found on 1708 Jefferson Street and his mural is located on 17th & Cecil B. Moore Ave.
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