A Tribute to Queen Mother Moore from Geraldine Wilson

Miss Moore came to be called Queen Mother during a trip to Africa years ago, when a tribe in Ghana awarded her the honorary title. In Africa, as she once put it, “I felt the lash on the backs of my people.”

Her outrage over the suffering of blacks in America led to years of political action. “They not only called us Negroes, they made us Negroes,” she once said, “things that don’t know where they came from and don’t even care that they don’t know. Negro is a state of mind, and they massacred our minds.”

Queen Mother Moore (1898-1997)

On April 20, 1977, Geraldine gave a tribute to Queen Mother Moore in Harlem, New York. From a person who once interviewed Harry Belafonte, befriended Toni Cade Bambara, and worked with Alice Walker in Jackson, Mississippi, it came with little surprised that Geraldine received an invitation to honor Queen Moore. And her speech revealed much about Geraldine’s passion to civil rights and the educational needs of black children.

APRIL 1977

                Queen Mother Moore is legendary in the Black community. Specifically, in places wherever and whenever African peoples come together to struggle for their liberation and/or to theorize, rapturize, politicize, posturize, emphasize, criticize, romanticize, and to revolutionize our struggle, its state of health, and/or its direction—there is Queen Mother Moore.

                I do not consider that I know her personally. She has lived too long, met too many people, fought too many fights to remember me; a person who first knew about the struggle in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where I was born, and who joined the struggle in Mississippi where I worked. In 1965 and 1966, after coming to New York to live from working in Mississippi, I began to learn about the various aspects of the struggle in this, the world’s most famous Black community. It was in Reverend Dempsey’s church on 125th and Park Avenue, along with another legendary woman, Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer. Mrs. Hamer was invited to the church to speak so that she could raise funds for the political campaign among Blacks in her home county in Mississippi, Sunflower. An empty chair separated me from Queen Mother Moore on the left and Mrs. Hamer sat next to me on my right. At one point during the informal program, Queen Mother Moore, wearing the traditional dress in which we are accustomed to seeing her, rose her feet..

                 She would not remember me. That is as it ought to be. It is “meet and right” that I learned from her about the meaning and significance of reparations, why they were owed to Black folk and how staggering was the sum that was owed us. That was the first time I saw her…And so it is that legendary individuals in our communities touch us and have an impact on our lives. We see them, we watch them, we listen to them. And learn from them.  We learn of the importance of revolutionary thought and action. We try to model their courage. They inspire us, we attempt to follow in their footsteps. 

Until the next post,


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