Audley Moore (aka Queen Mother)
July 27, 1898 – May 2, 1997
Audley Eloise Moore was born in New Iberia, Louisiana the first of Ella and St. Cry Moore’s three daughters. The family had a history of first-hand experience with racially motivated violence. Ella’s maternal grandmother, Nora Henry, had been born into slavery, the product of her mother having been raped by her enslaver. Her maternal grandfather had been lynched leaving his wife and five children behind of whom Moore’s mother was the youngest.
Unfortunately, both of Moore’s parents passed away by the time she reached the fourth grade which led to her dropping out of school to help care and provide for her younger sisters. Moore and her siblings moved to New Orleans where she eventually found work as a hairdresser and later as a domestic. To continue her education, Moore studied the writings of Frederick Douglass.
Growing up in New Iberia and New Orleans combined with Moore’s family history provided exposure to the harsh realities of the Jim Crow South. When she was a young woman, Marcus Garvey visited Louisiana and met with resistance from the police. Garvey was arrested the night before he was scheduled to give a speech and the police also attempted to silence him during the speech. Aware of the possibility of trouble, Moore attended the speech armed with one gun in her bosom and another in her pocketbook. The experience was life-changing and inspired Moore to become involved with the Black nationalist movement.
Her exposure to Garvey’s message of the need for Black liberation across the diaspora made Moore aware of Black Americans’ shared struggle with Black people in Africa and the Caribbean. She became involved with Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) while living in New Orleans. Inspired by Garvey’s speech, Moore and her sisters relocated to Harlem, New York City in 1922. Another significant change in Moore’s life that year was her marriage to Frank Warner which would produce one son, Thomas.
Moore became a leading member in the UNIA which tasked her with organizing conventions in the area. She also became a shareholder in the ill-fated Black Star Line. Moore joined the Communist Party (CP) following the collapse of the UNIA and Black Star Line. She left the CP in 1950 due in part to what she perceived as a lack of attention to racism and sexism and quite possibly a government crackdown.
Moore eventually struck out on her own and founded a Pan-Africanist group, the Universal Association of Ethiopian Women (UAEW). Her sisters along with some other former female Garvey followers became members. The group preserved some of Garvey’s principles in addition to launching various social and political campaigns which included economic advocacy for Black women and legal aid for Black men accused of raping White women. In keeping with Pan-Africanism, Moore’s mission extended beyond America to include people of African descent across the world.
One of the early and most consistent voices in the call for reparations for Black Americans, Moore established the Committee for Reparations for Descendants of U.S. Slaves and The Republic of New Africa in the 1960s. As part of the Committee, Moore would spend 30 years lobbying for the federal government to provide financial restitution to the descendants of those who had been enslaved.
As part of her advocacy efforts, Moore created and presented models and bills for how the federal government could implement reparations. One such petition that was presented to the United Nations in 1957 included stipulations for land and money along with financial backing for Black Americans who hoped to move back to Africa. Her activism on the issue of reparations influenced the ideologies of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers.
Moore was involved with a variety of other issues that included local school board protests, helping Black tenants avoid evictions, and organizing domestic workers. She was also a part of initiatives to integrate the armed forces and professional sports but generally remained outside the more widespread Civil Rights Movement. In 1972 during a trip to Ghana for the funeral of former Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah, the Ashanti people bestowed the honorary title “Queen Mother” upon her.
Blessed to live a life just a little over one year shy of a century, Moore remained socially and politically active almost to the end of her life. Her last public appearance was at the Million Man March in 1995. Queen Mother Moore passed away in Brooklyn at 98-years-old from natural causes and was survived by her son, five grandchildren, and a great-grandson.
- “Audley ‘Queen Mother’ Moore, Civil Rights Leader, Dies at 98.” 1997. The Washington Post. WP Company. May 7, 1997. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1997/05/07/audley-queen-mother-moore-civil-rights-leader-dies-at-98/0d590af8-bf20-4c20-b4dd-f041551dab2a/.
- Farmer, Ashley D. 2019. “Meet Audley ‘Queen Mother’ Moore, the Black Woman Who Founded the Modern Reparations Movement.” The Lily. The Washington Post. July 5, 2019. https://www.thelily.com/meet-audley-queen-mother-moore-the-black-woman-who-founded-the-modern-reparations-movement/.
- Pace, Eric. 1997. “Queen Mother Moore, 98, Harlem Rights Leader, Dies.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company. May 7, 1997. https://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/07/nyregion/queen-mother-moore-98-harlem-rights-leader-dies.html.
- “Who Is Queen Mother Audley Moore?” 2021. National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC). February 4, 2021. https://reparationscomm.org/people-you-should-know/who-is-queen-mother-moore/.
Disclosure: Noire Histoir is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for the website to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Noire Histoir will receive commissions for purchases made via any Amazon Affiliate links above.