Audley « Queen Mother » Moore (1898-1996)
Audley Moore became an ancestor on May 2 at the age of 98 in 1996. She was given the honorary title of `Queen Mother’ by an Ashanti tribe in Ghana. Mother Moore lived a long and active life, dedicated to public service and improvement of the lives of African-Americans. Born on July 28, 1898 in New Iberia, LA, to second generation freed blacks, she became a revered public figure in Harlem, best known as an advocate for Africa and African-Americans. Moore’s ideas and teachings of Pan-African Nationalism was influenced by great political personalities such as W.E.B. DuBois and Marcus Garvey. As a civil rights activist, Mother Moore worked on the defense of the Scottsboro boys. Internationally, she spoke on her disapproval of the Italo-Ethiopian war. « I am not a part-time struggler,’ she once said. `I’m in the movement for the liberation of African people full-time, 7 days a week, 24 hours per day, for life. »
Her career was influenced by the violence and hatred she endured as a young child and young woman. While in the fourth grade, Moore’s parents died and thus ended her formal education. During World War I while in Alabama, Moore was a volunteer nurse who involved herself in the first of her movements for the equality of blacks by organizing support services for black soldiers that were denied by the Red Cross. Mother Moore was drawn to the idea of black nationalism and economic independence by the oratory of Marcus Garvey, founder of the Harlem-based Universal Negro Improvement Association. She became an active member of the organization, and founded the Harriet Tubman Association to better the conditions of black women. Through this organization, Moore advocated issues such as higher wages, better education, and the lowering of food prices to help improve the conditions of the poor. Following her brief membership in the Communist party–at the time, the only organization that accepted her radical ideas–she focused her attention on seeking economic reparations for descendants of the victims of slavery, cultural identity, and education. She launched a national campaign in support of economic reparations. Moore believed that economic reparations were the first constructive step in black nationalists ideology. As an orator, her rhetoric on this issue was powerful: « Ever since 1950, I’ve been on the trail fighting for reparations. They owe us more than they could ever pay. They stole our language; they stole us from our mothers and fathers and took our names from us. They worked us free of charge 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, under the lash for centuries. We lost over 100 million lives in the traffic of slavery. »
In 1962, Mother Moore met with President John F. Kennedy, the United Nations, and the Congressional Black Caucus about the issue of economic reparations. She later organized and directed the Reparations Committee of Descendants of United States Slaves. One of her last public appearances was at the Million Man March in Washington, DC. Although weak, her poignant speech was delivered by an associate. Queen Mother Moore died in a Brooklyn nursing home from natural causes at age 98.