It's been a little over three weeks since I learned that my friend and classmate, Paul Moore, made his transition in July. It was such a shock I have spent days going over all the wonderful things I remembered about him from Black in the day at Lincoln University, and fast forwarding to my return to New York City after having lived in California for 9 years.
Paul Moore, Sam Anderson, Julian Ellison and Tony Monteiro were tight friends, and four of the most powerful movers and shakers on the campus of Lincoln University, when I arrived there in September of 1965 - two weeks after the school year had started.
They were the militant arm of a school that had somewhat developed a convenient form of amnesia, during a time when Black people were just at the cusp of the Civil Rights Era and the Black Power Era. While Sam Anderson was always all over the place, in your face with his Blackness, Paul was more of a quiet riot - a militant from bone to bone, but well contained.
He had a restrained smile and a wry sense of humor, but when he was determined to do something, or accomplish something - you'd best move aside, because Paul was going to get it done.
I remember when Sam and Paul and a small crew of protesters were going to the UN to protest the whites in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) who had declared UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) against allowing the African brothers and sisters to have their own land that had been illegally colonized by them for over 100 years. It was freezing cold. We had tried to get the campus to rally with us, but no one - even our African brothers - was interested.
So we piled in the car - Paul was driving - and we drove to New York City, and stood in front of the UN with home made protest signs. There was six of us freezing our butts off - no one else showed up - but us. We stood out there, symbolically for two hours!!! My teeth were chattering - but stood we did! Then we drove back to Lincoln, freezing cold, sadder, wiser, but triumphant in the knowledge that we had at least done our part for our people.
There were only 16 female coeds on Lincoln's campus at the time - I was one of them. We were the first to be housed on the campus - but Lincoln was opening the campus up to female students after having been an all male campus for over 100 years - primarily because they needed the money - and VietNam was pulling the brightest and best male students into an illegal, undeclared war.
It took me a minute to realize the male/female ratio at Lincoln - at that time it was 20::600 - four of the female students lived with instructors, off campus, but attended full time. I guess I was destined to be with the more militant/activist of the group, because I had been expelled from Hampton for my activism. My reputation obviously preceded me - but whatever the reason, I was blessed to be part of the best of Lincoln's rabble.
There was no end to their activism - and almost from the beginning, Paul and Sam were on my case about my going natural and not straightening my hair. They would lecture me - and Maxine Stewart, my best friend - about the natural hair, about how beautiful Black women looked; about our African heritage. During breaks, Paul would literally corner me and produce books with pictures of Black women with Natural hair styles - Odetta, Miriam Makeba, etc.
Sam and Paul used to come to the African museum, where I did my college work study under Dr. H.D. Gunn, and try to get me to "liberate" African masques and other items, because they really "belonged to us" not the museum. Thank goodness I didn't listen to those two.
But there were so many more things that I am so grateful for in knowing Paul Moore - I remember when he told me he was from Aliquippa, PA. I ribbed him to no end about the name of his home town.
When he, Sam, Julian and Tony brought the first Natural wearing Black models to Lincoln's campus, the Grandassa Models, and Cecil Braithwaite (Elombe Brath), as well as Gus Dinizulu and his dancers, in an effort to instill African Pride in those who had lost their way, and engender it in those who never had it, I began to pay more attention to what they were saying about wearing my hair Natural.
I can unequivocally say that it was due to Sam Anderson and Paul Moore that I have worn my hair in a natural since October, 1966 - and never reverted to processed hair styles. I wasn't the first - Maxine Stewart was - but we two were the only coeds at the time to wear our hair Natural (or in an Afro, for those who are new to the name). Maxine was the first campus queen of any HBCU with a Natural Hair Style - but no one was paying attention Black then.
Paul, Sam and I continued to be constant friends and companions after graduating from Lincoln. Paul settled in Brooklyn, Sam in Harlem, and for the first year, I lived in Philadelphia. That is, until they began to entice me to move to New York City. I would make New York runs on the week ends. We would party all over the city - and then I'd take the train back to Philly in time to get to work on Monday.
I eventually moved to New York - that's another story for another day, folks - and got caught up in the current movements and issues of the day.
As life would have it, I spent some considerable time out of the country, in Haiti, Martinique, Guadaloupe, St. Croix, St. Thomas, etc. And when I returned to New York, things had shifted considerably. I had lost communication with Paul, who I later learned, had gone to graduate school.
I relocated to California with my husband and family, and was "off planet" for nine years, living in Altadena, CA - my answer to the culture shock of Los Angeles. When I returned to New York in 1984, of course the first thing I did was look up my classmates - Sam Anderson was always a constant, and the conduit for all information about who was where and what they were doing.
The first thing I wanted to do when I got back to New York was hit the clubs - California's night life was abysmal and I missed being able to go from club to club to club until the sun came up. So, I parked my children in Oklahoma City (temporarily) with my parents, while I got a job and an apartment, contacted Sam and asked where was everybody and what were they doing?
He said he had a surprise for me; picked me up and took me to this fantastic little jazz club in Harlem on the corner of 145th and St. Nicholas Ave, called SUTTONS. And who should be there, owner, manager, and aficianado, but Paul Moore, and Yvonne Hampton (my first time meeting Yvonne)!!!
I was flabbergasted - Paul had to be first Lincoln grad I knew of that actually owned and ran his own business. I was so glad to see him - it took a minute to soak it all in. There was live entertainment furnished by Olu Dara, Greg Bandy, and others. In fact, Olu Dara and Greg and I became friends as a result of Suttons. They served the best Chicken and Waffles; held fashion shows featuring local Black designes; hosted civic community programs. I could even have my kids meet me there after coming from Harlem School of the Arts, which was right down the hill, if I was running late coming home from work! This was a real culture nerve center - all emanating from that wonderful little place on the corner, and my friend Paul Moore owned it! I remember his telling me that he had always wanted to own a club of his own - where you could get good entertainment; not just a bar or a hang out spot; but a place of quality where people would be proud to come and bring their friends and relatives. Well he and Yvonne did it!
Many a night I spent hanging there - the club was very popular - and generally had standing room audiences for the shows. The problem was that the building owner was a slumlord and did little to keep the building up. And then, once he found that the property had such a large draw, he began trying to push the club out and put something else in there. Paul, who was a lawyer, was still no match for the kinds of chicanery this landlord could cook up, and eventually closed the doors.
He later became and administrative law judge, and we saw very little of each other. He was ensconced in Brooklyn, and most of my activities were in Harlem/Manhattan. I would reach out to him sporadically as I became more and more active with Lincoln's Alumni relations - especially during our reunion years.
The last time we actually spent great quality time together was when we drove down together for our 35 Class Reunion in 1997. We talked about everything under the sun - our kids were grown and gone - well, except for my youngest, who was still in high school at the time. He had contracted a chronic ailment that had caused him to step down from his position - one that would not allow him to metabolize fat - Paul was already always slim - so this ailment had him so thin, frail and emaciated that it appeared that he would surely break at the slightest bump.
The last time I saw him was at the funeral of our dear friend St. Clair Bourne at the Riverside Church. He and Yvonne were sitting a few seats behind me - I was so happy to see him - but didn't have a chance to speak.
From time to time I would reach out to him to come to an event at Lincoln or attend a reunion, but no response.
I am so happy to know that he and Yvonne were still together through this prolonged challenge to his health. He and my other Lincoln friend and confidante, Ja Jahannes, made their transitions within two days of each other - and I presume that's why I was not aware that Paul had joined the Ancestor/Angels of Fine Black Lincoln Men.
I will always treasure those great days at Lincoln and NY City - and the quiet, but intense love that Paul held for his culture, and his people. I can just see him with Gil Scott Heron, Randy Kane, Ja Jahannes and the rest of the Rabble, kicking around some new concept.
Peace be unto him -
My Condolences to Yvonne, Waida, and his other family and friends - and to those of us of the Lincoln University family from Black in the day who had the privilege and pleasure of getting to know this Fine Black Man.
Stay Blessed &
Gloria LU '67
Thanks to the good offices of brother Ernst Perodin, some of his NYC friends and colleagues will hold an informal get-together/memorial for him on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 beginning at 6:15 p.m. over dinner at Ponty Bistro Restaurant, 2375 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. and 139th Street, Harlem, NY to celebrate Paul’s life through remembrances of him.
Ponty Bistro’s website is www.pontybistroharlem.com. You can get more information about them there, including their menu. You can also view a July 17, 2015 WABC TV newscast about them at http://abc7ny.com/food/eats-
poisson-yassa-from-ponty- bistro/856736/. Ponty Bistro will provide an individual bill to each diner at the memorial for which he/she will be responsible. He chose Ponty Bistro because of its ambiance, cuisine, reasonable prices, African ownership and convenient Harlem location.
Please circulate this message to any of Paul’s friends whom you are in contact with who might want to attend, and please RSVP me at firstname.lastname@example.org by October 8, 2015 so that we can confirm our reservation for the number of people we expect to attend.
Feel free to call me at (718) 287-8113 if you have any questions about the above.
On Sunday, October, Rev. Frances Paul will hold Memorial Services for Paul Moore at Mary Dodd Brown Chapel at Lincoln University, at 11:00 AM. All LU Alumni, family and friends are invited to participate and pay homage to this wonderful brother.
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