Dave Moore

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Dave Moore


Dave Moore, a veteran of the Ford Hunger March and a founder of United Auto Workers Local 600 who helped shape the history of Detroit and the entire country, died in Detroit Oct. 26, 2009 at the age of 97. He was born on April 6, 1912 in, as he said, "the slave state of South Carolina."

Union organizing

On March 7, 1932, Moore was among thousands of people marching on the Ford Motor Co.'s Rouge plant in Dearborn, Mich., in what is known today as the Ford Hunger March. Some 3,500 hungry, unemployed people marched to Ford's flagship Rouge plant demanding jobs - only to be assaulted with fire hoses, clubs and guns by the company's "Service Department" in concert with the Dearborn police.

Five of Moore's comrades fell victim to Ford's hired thugs. "It was," he later recalled, "a turning point in my life; that day I was no longer a boy, but a man." The Hunger March taught him the importance of interracial unity of the workers. "We were white, Black, Mexican, of all religions and creeds," and that unity is what led to the union organizing victories later on, he said.

Moore said it was the Hunger March that inspired the union drive, and it was the racial unity inspired by the marchers that helped overcome divisions provoked by the Ford Motor Co.

But it was a lesson the union's leadership had to learn the hard way. When the UAW mounted an organizing drive at Ford in 1939, the CIO and UAW leadership at first ignored the 17,000-plus Black workers. But, Moore said, "Ain't no way in hell they could organize Ford without Black workers. They came to realize that when they took the vote in 1939 and got the shit beat out of them."

In 1940, the UAW began another drive to organize the Rouge. CIO leaders John L. Lewis and Phillip Murray came to Detroit and changed their tune, saying all workers would be under one umbrella together.

Moore and other African Americans played a key role in convincing Detroit's skeptical Black population of the benefits of unions. He and others urged the UAW to bring Paul Robeson to Detroit to speak and sing for the union. Robeson did so three times. The last time, in May 1941, more than 100,000 people filled Cadillac Square in downtown Detroit to hear him.

Meanwhile Moore and others initiated a wildcat strike and shut down the Rouge. The UAW leadership had not authorized the strike but the workers' feelings were so strong that they walked out. The union leadership was won to follow the workers' lead. On June 30, 1941, the UAW-CIO signed a contract with Ford. This time a majority of the workforce had voted for the union and thousands of African American workers provided the margin of victory.

Communist Bill McKie, the legendary organizer who first gave Moore a union leaflet in 1936, said, "The strike was called by the workers themselves; and when [union leaders] Reuther, Frankensteen and company arrived at Gate 4 it was already in full swing. Everywhere the men took over, as in Gear and Axle, where six rank and filers, like Dave Moore, pulled the switch." McKie also said, "The Negroes on the picket line, under the leadership of men like Dave Moore, Nelson Davis, Veal Clough, Joe Billlups, Harold Robinson, showed by example what they meant. For the line was solidly Negro-and-white."

Three weeks later, Dave Moore was elected a union district committeeman in the Gear and Axle Plant. Over the years, in that plant, Dave was elected a bargaining committeeman, vice-president, and General Council member.[1]

McCarthy era

During the McCarthy era, Moore and fellow officers of the local - John Gallo, Nelson Davis and Ed Locke - were found guilty of being "sympathetic" to the Communist Party USA and were removed from their elected positions. In 1963, on threat of legal action, the four were reinstated. Five months later and 12 years after being removed, the four were all re-elected overwhelming by the rank and file.

In 1972, when UAW President Leonard Woodcock offered Moore a position as international representative, Moore later said his initial reaction was "Hell no." He recalled, "I just could not believe that after being disbarred for 12 long years I would be offered a job at Solidarity House," the union's national headquarters in Detroit.

But after meetings between the officers of Local 600 and Woodcock, at the local's urging he accepted the position.[2]

Appointments

Dave Moore was a founding member of the National Negro Labor Council. He served as a legislative assistant to the late Rep. George Crockett, Sr. (D-Mich.). When Congressman Crockett retired in 1990, Mayor Coleman Young appointed Moore director of the city's Senior Citizens Department.[3]

National Negro Labor Council

In 1950 Quill Pettway, along with Dave Moore, Coleman Young, notable Detroit activists Lebron Simmons and Rev. Charles Hill was a proud founding member of the National Negro Labor Council. The NNLC had the goal of working through unions to advance the cause of all Black people and all workers.

Though McCarthyism and HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) hearings targeted NNLC leaders and caused the demise of the organization, it won important victories against discrimination both inside and outside the labor movement and is considered the forerunner of today's Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.[4]

Christopher Alston Memorial

In May 1995 the Communist Party USA Newspaper, People's Weekly World published a memorial to Christopher Alston. It was endorsed by several signatories, mainly identified members of the Michigan Communist Party USA. The list included Dave Moore.[5]

Memorial to Coleman Young

On December 20 1997 the Communist Party USA's Peoples Weekly World published on page 18, a memorial to late Detroit mayor Coleman Young.

Signatories to the memorial included Dave Moore .

PWW gathering

People’s Weekly World fundraising events around the country 2007 showed the strength and vitality of the progressive movement.

In Detroit, friends of the PWW came together to honor Angelo Deitos, Ruth Goldman, Dave Moore, Quill Pettway, Carl Reinstein and Stella Reinstein and Ethel Schwartz, seven longtime heroes whose lives are part of the history of the city. Collectively the seven were involved in the Ford Hunger March, the organization of the UAW, the National Negro Labor Council, fought against segregation, repression and have led lives dedicated to the fight for peace.

Among those paying tribute were Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson; Mike Kerwin, a leader of the Michigan Labor History Society; Elena Herrada, the director of Southwest Detroit’s Centro Obrero; Steve Noffke from Local 600 UAW and Erica Smiley, the chair of the Young Communist League.[6]

Obama "dream"

When it became clear in October 2008 that Barack Obama might actually win the presidency, Dave said he was "blown away" by the white votes Obama received during the primaries. "Sometimes I don't know if I'm dreaming," he commented.[7]

References