When one thinks of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, lots of people come
to mind. The Late Great Fannie Lou Hamer, Victoria Jackson Gray Adams, Annie
Devine, Bob Moses, Lawrence Guyot, June E. Johnson, Charles Cobb, Owen
Brooks, Dr. T.R.M. Howard, Sam Block, Jr., Herman Perry, Unita Blackwell, Medgar
Evers, Ella Baker, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Charles McLaurin and numerous of
others. But, before someone fired up Fannie Lou Hamer's insurmountable
passion to fight for freedom and social justice, there was a GIANT named Amzie.
Mr. Amzie Moore was born on September 23, 1911 in Grenada County, Mississippi.
He grew up largely on the Wilkins Plantation just north of Greenwood. Moore
moved to Cleveland, Mississippi in 1926. In 1936, he registered to vote although
he was not allowed to vote in the all-important primaries. He helped started the first
Negro Boy Scout Troop in the Cleveland.
In 1940, someone struck a match and stuck it to the bottom of a giant's foot named
Amzie Moore. His first knowledge of "The Freedom Movement" came as he recalls
it when he attended a meeting, April 3rd, 1940, of several thousand Delta Blacks
concerning the modernization of life in the Delta including improving schools. The
Cotton Makers Jubilee drew over 10,000 blacks from the Delta to the Carnival-like
celebration at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi.
He was drafted into the United States Armed Services during WW II in 1942.
Corporal Moore's job was to counter propaganda that the Japanese were using via
media broadcast to remind "Black Solders that there was going to be no freedom
for them even after the war was over".
Amzie Moore returned to Cleveland in 1946. He later acquired property; started a
combination service station/beauty shop/restaurant business with a loan from
Standard Life Insurance Company. Moore didn't waste time using his organization
skills for "change".
From this point on, a giant named "Amzie" would work non-stop organizing from
the bottom up to bring about change for blacks not only in Cleveland, Mississippi,
but throughout the Mississippi Delta. In 1950, He Co-founded the Regional Council of
Negro Leadership (RCNL) along with Dr. T.R.M. Howard who was a prosperous,
flamboyant and very popular surgeon. The RCNL attracted several thousand
people to its first mass meeting to hear prominent speakers like Congressman
William Dawson and Charles Diggs and then Attorney Thurgood Marshall. Amzie
served as Vice-Chairman of the RCNL. The RCNL had a following of nearly
100,000 people from at least half of the counties in Mississippi.
Amzie enlisted all types in the RCNL: ministers, heads of Fraternal Organizations,
Business People, and National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People (NAACP) officers. Bayard Rustin visited the Delta in the mid-fifties and
thought Moore to be either very brave or very stupid.
Jet magazine and The Pittsburgh Courier ran stories soliciting aid for him. "In
Friendship"(spearheaded by Ella Baker), raised money to help Amzie, they also
sent clothes to distribute to other people. Amzie also distributed sewing machines
and material for people to learn how to sew and make clothes to wear. "In
Friendship" also arranged for East Coast speaking for Moore and Moore focused
on disenfranchisement in the South and the federal role in the process.
The RCNL held voter registration classes and testimonial meetings where citizens
could share stories of the difficulties they experienced trying to register to vote.
Amzie worked with NAACP's Roy Wilkins (national office) with conferences and
fundraisers. In 1955, the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP elected Amzie Moore
president in his absence. Over the next year, he and Medgar Evers built the
chapter up to 439 members making it the second largest branch in the state.
Moore became Vice-President of the State Conference of NAACP branches.
Herman Perry helped Moore start a Bolivar County Voters League in the mid-fifties;
Perry worked with Moore for nearly thirty years. Amzie Moore was part of several
singing groups and much of his NAACP recruiting was done in churches taking
advantage of that fact. Sometimes, Moore's group would sing precursor to the
SNCC Freedom Singers. He would pass out membership forms immediately after
In order to register to vote in Mississippi, you had to answer any chosen question
of Mississippi's constitution and pay a poll tax. In 1955, the White Citizen Council
(WCC) was established with the agenda of the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) and the
demeanor of Rotary.
The WCC goal was to drive ½ million Blacks out of the South. Its membership was
nearly (25,000) twenty-five thousand within one year and grew to nearly (80,000)
eighty thousand within two years. Their national office was located in Greenwood.
Amzie Moore recruited and sent Sam Block, Jr. to work with and educate Blacks in
Greenwood. Amzie Moore recruited many and many stayed at his house when in
the Delta. Bob Moses, Lawrence Guyot, Charles Cobbs, Sam Block, Jr. Willie
Peacock, Thurgood Marshall, Owens Brooks, Ella Baker and on and on.
Amzie Moore supported SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee).
Within two years, 16,000 blacks were recruited, among them, the Legendary Mrs.
Fannie Lou Hamer. Moore introduced Hollis Watkins to Fannie Lou Hamer. Mrs.
Hamer requested Amzie’s help in organizing the Freedom Democratic Party.
Amzie and others had their first meeting at New Hope Baptist Church. “That church
mysteriously burned to the ground”. “Rev. J. D. Story let us meet at his church”,
said Amzie. “Some people were afraid to get involved”.
Moore directed "Operation Freedom Committee" which compensated black people
who lost their jobs by voting. Amzie also served on the Board of the Black Hospital
in Mound Bayou. Additionally, he supported CORE (Commission on Racial
Among other things, Amzie became counselor to all, black and white, young and
old who came to Mississippi in the freedom movement. He was on the Board of
Director of the Delta Ministry of National Churches of Christ in the USA. It was the
Delta Ministry who memorialized Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer under the leadership of
Mr. Owen Brooks.
Moore met with President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Bob Moses stayed with Amzie
nearly five months in 1966.
Moore lobbied on behalf of Bolivar Countians and Mississipians for funding for several
projects. It was Amzie Moore who organized the first Head Start program in Bolivar
County, Mississippi. The first Head Start Center was located at 612 Church Street in
Cleveland, Mississippi. In 1966 Head Start served over 1400 poor white families
and 7600 poor black families. In 1967, 1968 and 1969 Head Start was being
funded for $1,000,000 (one million dollars) per year. Amzie Moore never received
nor wanted a salary from Head Start. Moore was the first Board Chairman of MACE
(Mississippi Action Committee on Education) 1967-70.
In 1968, Amzie retired from the United States Post Office and began working with
the (NCNW) National Council of Negro Woman (Washington, D.C.) Moore became
the first manager of the Turnkey III Project: a low income housing in East Cleveland
(East Gate) developed by the NCNW under the leadership of Mrs. Unita Blackwell.
Overall, Moore was successful in getting descent, low income housing for many
citizens. He recalled 200 houses being constructed in East Gate, 137 AME Homes
apartments and 60 housing units in Rosedale, MS. “Moore Avenue” in East Gate is
named in his honor.
Amzie Moore worked hard for education and economic development, political and
social justice. He was also instrumental in getting Baxter Laboratory to hire more blacks.
Before Moore’s involvement, Baxter employed thirteen blacks in janitorial positions only.
Moore estimated that nearly 800 blacks were employed there in 1977. Baxter trusted
Moore on referrals.
When President Jimmy Carter was campaigning, Senator William Alexander of
Cleveland and Representative Ed Jackson of Cleveland were interested in
promoting Carter. They asked Amzie Moore for assistance.
On February 1, 1982, Mr. Amzie Moore laboring stopped. He died as the catalyst
that sparked an entire generation of liberators determined to bring about change
from near and far, black and white, young and old. During the Civil Rights
Movement in Mississippi, many people visited and/or stayed at Amzie Moore’s
house. Fannie Lou Hamer, Victoria Gray Adams, Annie Devine, Owen Brooks,
Tracy Sugarman, L. C. Dorsey, Ruben Smith, Stokely Carmichael, Ella Baker,
Medgar Evers, Dorothy Cotton, Thurgood Marshall, Rev. J. D. Story, Ira Landrass,
Charles McLaurin, James Bevel, John Doar, Aaron Vence, L. Griffin, Julian Bond,
Aaron Henry, Dave Dennis and countless others.
Others that either visited Amzie, he visited or received phone calls from include
Hupert Humphrey, Senator Robert Kennedy, Senator James O. Eastland and Jimmy
Moore has contributed to publications such as "My Soul is Rested: An Oral History
with Amzie Moore by Howell Raines" and numerous newspaper and magazine
articles (1955 Ebony). Additional information can be found on Moore in "Who's
Who in American Politics", "Eyes on the Prize", "We'll Never Turn Back", "Dream
Deferred" and "I've Got The Light of Freedom" by Charles Payne.
We will forever remember Mr. Amzie Moore. On Saturday, September 29, 2001,
The City of Cleveland, officially, renamed Shady Grove Park “Amzie Moore Park”.
Estimates upwards of 800-1000 people are said to have visited the park
throughout the day for the dedication. Currently, Head Start Centers from
Humphrey County, Sunflower County and other surrounding areas choose Amzie’s
Park as their annual Picnic site. Area public schools frequent Amzie Moore Park.
Students from Indiana University South Bend, University of Michigan Ann Arbor and
University of Miami among others, also, migrate to Cleveland to Amzie Moore Park.
Fraternities such as Phi Beta Sigma (DSU) occasionally, plan events at
Amzie Moore Park. And, High School Band Competitions, East Side High School Softball
home games and Family and Class Reunions take place there year round.
Delta State University’s Delta Center for Culture & Learning offers an annual
scholarship “THE DELTA HUMAN RIGHTS LEADERS FELLOWSHIP” in memory of
Amzie Moore and Sam Block, Jr., established by Dr. F. Watt Bishop of Oxford
|Amzie's Gas Station, Restaurant
& Beauty Salon
Disclaimer: AMZIE MOORE ESTATES and ROAR provide information on this
web site for educational/informational and networking purposes only! Use of any
ESTATE and ROAR claim no responsibility for misuse of information obtained on
this web site.
(c) copyrighted AMZIE MOORE ESTATES and ROAR May 2001
Last Updated July 2008
|Amzie Moore's house was declared a Historical
Landmark in Cleveland, MS on May 13, 2008.
(C) Copyrighted Amzie's Estates
|Above Center: Mrs. Mary Moore Chatman (Amzie's Widow)
Former Shady Grove Park dedicated in honor of Amzie Moore
Amzie Moore Day September 29, 2001
|Click on picture
to view Amzie
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AMZIE MOORE (2nd on Right) is joined by Bob Moses, Julian Bond, Hollis Watkins (white
coat next to Amzie), E. W. Steptoe and others.
PHOTO BY HARVEY RICHARDS