Audley Moore (b. 1898–d. 1997) was born in New Iberia, Louisiana, to St. Cyr and Ella Moore and had a relatively happy girlhood in New Orleans until the death of both parents left her and her sisters, Eloise and Loretta, orphaned. Her activist life began shortly after when she joined Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in New Orleans in 1922. Moore’s fervor for Black Nationalism led her to migrate to Harlem—the location of UNIA headquarters—in the late 1920s. When she arrived, the UNIA had dissipated, but the Communist Party had taken its place as a group successfully organizing the local Black community. Moore joined the Communist Party and worked within it to organize the Black working class. By 1935, she was a lead recruiter and organizer for the Upper Harlem Branch of the Party. Her work at the grassroots level led to citywide, Party-backed appointments including managing communist candidate Ben Davis’s successful campaign for a New York City Council seat in 1944. During and after World War II, she worked with a range of Black leftist organizations including the National Negro Congress, the Civil Rights Congress, and the National Council of Negro Women. When 1950s anticommunist hysteria targeted communists and progressives alike, Moore left the Party and struck out on her own. In the second half of the 20th century Moore sowed the seeds of Black Nationalism across the United States. Moore fostered gender-conscious Black Nationalism and started the modern reparations movement through her New Orleans–based group, the Universal Association of Ethiopian Women (UAEW). She also nurtured Black Nationalism and reparations activity through Black Power–era organizations such as the Revolutionary Action Movement, the Republic of New Africa, and the Black Panther Party. From the 1970s to the 1990s, Moore served as a mother and mentor of the radical Black liberation movement, taking on the honorific “Queen Mother.” She was a sought-after teacher and theoretician who traveled globally. For example, Moore was the keynote speaker at the All-Africa Women’s Conference in Tanzania 1972 and a personal guest of Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere and Guinean President Sekou Touré in subsequent years. She was also member of other Black Nationalist and Pan-Africanist groups such as the All-African People’s Party and the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations (N’COBRA), among others. She passed away in Brooklyn, New York, on 2 May 1997.
Moore had an elementary school–level education and transmitted most of her ideas orally. As a result, recorded and transcribed interviews offer some of the best overviews of her nearly century-long life. Gilkes 1990 is the most complete interview and account of Moore’s life ever published. Moore’s interviews in Naison 1972 and Prago 1981 focus on her time as a member of Marcus Garvey’s UNIA and the Communist Party. Recorded later in her life, in 1973, “The Black Scholar Interviews: Queen Mother Moore” speaks to Moore’s opinions on Black Nationalism, gender roles, reparations, and late-20th-century Black radical activism. Moore and Pinto 1985 is one of the few remaining video recordings of Moore. In this interview, she addresses her time in the Black Freedom Movement and emphasizes the importance of reparations. Finally, Jackson-Issa 1999 uses some of the aforementioned oral interviews in order to analyze Moore’s oratory techniques and her activist life.
Gilkes, Cheryl. “Interview with Audley Moore.” In Black Women Oral History Project. Vol. 8. Edited by Ruth Edmonds Hill, 111–201. Westport, CT: Meckler, 1990.
An extensive interview with Moore on all topics, ranging from her childhood and family dynamics to politics and decades of radical political activism. This interview is the ideal starting place for anyone looking for an overview of Moore’s life and politics from her perspective.
Jackson-Issa, Kai. “Her Own Book: Autobiographical Practice in the Oral Narratives of Queen Mother Audley Moore.” PhD diss., Emory University, 1999.
Using Gilkes and other interviews, Jackson-Issa offers an analysis of how Moore used different conversational techniques to offer insights into her politics, difficult moments in her life, and her importance to the Black Freedom Movement. An important source for those looking to contextualize and analyze remaining interviews with Moore.
Moore, Audley, and Earl Menelik Pinto. Queen Mother Moore: Witness to a Century of Injustice. New York: Reparations Education Fund, 1985.
A rare recorded interview featuring an elderly Moore speaking with Earl Pinto. During their discussion, Moore talks about her childhood and her commitment to the Black Liberation Movement, with particular emphasis on the importance of the Garvey movement and reparations.
Naison, Mark. Interview with Queen Mother Audley Moore. Oral History of the American Left. New York: Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University, 1972.
An audio recording in which Moore speaks about her experiences living in Harlem and working with the Communist Party from the 1920s to the 1940s. Moore also divulges how these formative political experiences shaped her later life. This interview offers the best overview of Moore’s early political activism.
Prago, Ruth. Interview with Queen Mother Audley Moore. Oral History of the American Left. New York: Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University, 1981.
In this audio recording, Moore speaks about her girlhood in New Orleans, the importance of the UNIA in her political development, and her experiences in the Communist Party organizing alongside other Black women. Recorded during the same period, it serves as an important complement to Naison 1972 for those looking to get a holistic picture of Moore’s early activist life.
“The Black Scholar Interviews: Queen Mother Moore.” Black Scholar 4.6–7 (1973): 47–55.
This transcribed interview features Moore’s thoughts on her upbringing, early political activism, African liberation, gender roles in the Black community, and the modern reparations movement. It is of particular interest to scholars looking to learn more about the second half of Moore’s life.
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