Bob Moore: civil rights era activist, community planner (updated)


Credit: Washington City Paper.

Robert L. “Bob” Moore was the president and CEO of Washington, D.C.’s Development Corporation of Columbia Heights. He died earlier this week at age 74. Moore was a New Jersey native who did his undergraduate work at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C.

Moore first encountered Jim Crow segregation when he travelled from to college by train. When the train stopped in Washington, D.C., he was forced to move to the “colored car.”

As an undergrad, in 1960 Moore took part in lunch counter sit-ins. After graduating, he returned to New Jersey and took a job teaching in Philadelphia before enrolling in graduate school at Temple University. Moore returned to New Jersey following a tour in Vietnam and went into social work and government service. He met a Howard University professor on a train and subsequently found himself enrolled in the university’s new urban studies program.

Moore later worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in its Model Cities program and in 1976 he became the first African American director of the Houston, Texas, housing authority. In 1978, newly elected Washington mayor Marion Barry recruited Moore to head the city’s Department of Housing and Community Development.

I interviewed Moore in July 2007 for the Washington Local Initiatives Support Corporation. The interview was one of more than 60 that were used in Tony Proscio’s 2012 book, Becoming What We Can Be: Stories of Community Development in Washington, DC. He was one of the most fascinating people I have interviewed.

The Washington City Paper and the Washington Post have published Moore’s obituaries.

Update: Washington, D.C.,LISC has posted a segment from my 2007 interview with Moore on its website. From the post:

On July 7, 2014 Robert Moore, who for over 30 years was a community development trailblazer in Washington, DC,  passed away.  The following is one segment of a 2007 oral history interview that was conducted by oral historian David Rotenstein.  Hear how the neighborhood residents, nonprofits and other stakeholders laid the foundation for the rebirth of Columbia Heights, one of the city’s neighborhoods that was  devastated by the 1968 riots.


© 2014 D.S. Rotenstein


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