NABJ Honors the Life and Legacy of NABJ Founder Acel Moore
Sunday, February 14, 2016
Posted by: Aprill Turner
WASHINGTON (February 14, 2016) - The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) mourns the passing of Acel Moore, an NABJ founder and legendary Philadelphia journalist. Moore died Friday night at home in Wyncote, Pa. He was 75.
Moore was a respected newspaper columnist, reporter and editor. He began his career with The Philadelphia Inquirer as a copy clerk in 1962 after working as a medic in the Army. He advanced to editorial clerk and then became one of the first black reporters at The Inquirer in 1968. His career spanned more than four decades. Moore won the Pulitzer Prize in 1977 for investigative reporting for a series of stories that depicted the abuse of inmates at Fairview State Hospital.
“Acel was an icon to black journalists, he was an icon to journalists of color, he was an icon to all journalists. Acel was a legendary wordsmith whose impact resonates throughout the journalism industry," said NABJ President Sarah Glover. "Acel left a wonderful legacy as a humanitarian, truth seeker, fighter for equal opportunity and trailblazer who opened doors for countless journalists, especially those of color. We will honor his memory by continuing the fight for diversity in all newsrooms now more than ever.”
In 1973, Moore founded the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists with fellow Philadelphia journalists Chuck Stone and Claude Lewis. Their work and that of other early PABJ members laid the groundwork for the National Association of Black Journalists, which was founded in 1975 in Washington, D.C.
“I traveled the world with Acel to my great benefit and our mutual delight, growth and sometimes close calls. We nearly missed our flight in Mozambique, for example, and would have been stranded in Maputo without a word of Portuguese, to say nothing of Tsonga, between us. OK, we knew one Portuguese word, ‘uisque,’" said fellow NABJ Founder Les Payne. “Acel loved life as displayed by his heroic struggle over the last few years. Acel loved NABJ; and NABJ loved him back--I know I did.”
Not just a print journalist Moore and fellow NABJ co-founder Reginald Bryant co-hosted the public television program Black Perspectives on the News, which aired on WHYY-TV, Philadelphia’s public T.V. station, but the program was also broadcast nationally on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) from 1973-1979.
In 1979, he completed the Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University where he focused his studies on law and urban studies. In 1981, he was named a columnist and began to pen editorials and columns for The Inquirer as part of the editorial board.
Firmly committed to diversifying newsrooms, Moore began the Art Peters Memorial Fellowship Program in an effort to increase the number of diverse copy editors at The Inquirer. He went onto develop a program designed to introduce and prepare high school students throughout the Delaware Valley for careers in journalism. The First Take publication documented the students’ work and the program was later renamed the Acel Moore Career Development Workshop.
“I have so many, many fond memories of Acel, someone who welcomed me to Philadelphia before NABJ was founded. He was such a fine journalist, a trailblazer, a funny man, a proud black man who did so much for our craft and his community,” said NABJ Founder Joe Davidson. “We so need programs like the PBS Black Perspective on the News that he and Reggie Bryant, another NABJ founder, produced. I’m proud to have been his friend for so many decades, proud to be an NABJ cofounder with him. It’s a sad day as we celebrate his life.”
Founder Moore also had an impressive career teaching journalism. He served on the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley’s summer program for minority journalists, worked as a journalism instructor at Temple University and Florida A&M University, and was a journalism consultant to Northwestern University, Duquesne University, the University of Kansas and Norfolk State University.
“I am sad that my old friend Acel Moore has passed. He was a fine person, a good friend and he did much to make the National Association of Black Journalists an organization that made a difference. During the conventions we attended I can well remember how he took time to talk to young journalist and give advice on how to succeed,” said former NABJ President Merv Aubespin. “I will miss him and so will NABJ, an organization that he truly cared about. My condolences to his family and friends and do keep the faith.”
Moore met and covered Presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton over the course of his career. He retired from the Inquirer in 2005 and held the title of associate editor emeritus at the time of his death.
“I was blown away by Acel's deep devotion to the next generation of journalists. After both our careers in daily journalism ended, Acel and I co-founded Prime Movers Media Philadelphia, an intensive journalism mentoring program within the Philadelphia Public Schools that still exists nearly ten years later,” said former NABJ President Dorothy Butler Gilliam. “Even with startup funds from the Knight Foundation, we still needed Acel's sterling reputation to open the superintendent's doors in that problem-ridden school system. Acel and I had many adventures with this program. He was a fighter, an innovator, full of fun and a great journalist. I loved him very much.”
Moore was presented with NABJ’s Legacy Award in 2005 and was bestowed with the NABJ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. He was greeted by a standing ovation as it was presented to him during the 36th Annual NABJ Convention and Career Fair in Philadelphia.
NABJ extends its sincerest condolences to Founder Moore’s family and the countless friends within the journalism community who he leaves behind.
“I am beyond words and deeply saddened by this news of one of our most beloved Founders -- and a person I personally loved and respected,” said Paul Brock, NABJ founder and the organization’s first executive director.
Moore is survived by his wife Linda Wright Moore, daughter Mariah and son Acel, Jr. Funeral services will be held Monday, Feb. 22 at Grace Baptist Church in Germantown.
An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization for journalists of color in the nation, and provides career development as well as educational and other support to its members worldwide.