Black History Seen in Mirror, Memories
The U.S. Army folks even stole something from my parents to use as a theme for their commercials. Well, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. That's because, as long as I can remember, my parents have stressed to my younger brothers, Dennis and Darrell, and me that we should strive to be the best that we possibly can be no matter what -- doubts, fears, peer pressure, even racial prejudice.
Not only that, they've lived their words. Big time.
My father joined his best friend, Fred Ware, as two of the first African-American paratroopers for the U.S. Army at Fort Campbell during the early 1950s. He was part of a group that integrated the golf courses in South Bend, Ind., during the late 1950s. Then, during the 1960s, he was the first African-American hired for AT&T in the Midwest, and he was among the first African-American supervisors ever for the company.
As for my mother, she spent much of the 1960s as the first African-American to work for The Associates, a saving and loan company whose national headquarters was in South Bend. Years later, when we moved to Milwaukee, she was the first black supervisor for that branch of the Federal Reserve Bank.
My parents also were prolific bowlers. They did so in leagues three times a week, and they regularly dominated their competition at alleys that didn't feature African-Americans until my parents and some of their friends abruptly changed things. In fact, my father became the first African-American to win the singles bowling championship in South Bend when he did so in 1964.
All of those moments involving our parents were a weekly, daily and hourly influence on my two brothers and me. Plus, we were AT&T brats since the company spent the late 1960s and early 1970s transferring my father around the Midwest -- from my native South Bend to Cincinnati to Chicago and then to Milwaukee. The objective of our parents during each move was to place us in the best school districts that they could find, and those districts were predominately white.
So, you've probably guessed by now that the Moore boys were the Jackie Robinsons of their various schools, youth leagues and social or academic clubs. For instance: While Darrell was the first African-American to play baseball at the University of Wisconsin, I was the first at just about everything else.
In Milwaukee, where I spent my junior and senior years of high school, I was the first African-American to play on the football and baseball teams -- both city powers at the time -- and I was the first to join the school newspaper. I eventually became the editor, which also was a first for an African-American, of course.
Just like that, my template was set forever as an African-American trailblazer, especially when it came to journalism.
Miami (Ohio) University has the oldest college newspaper in the country, and on my first day on campus, I became its first African-American writer. During my junior year, I became the sports editor, which made me the newspaper's first African-American editor of any kind.
A week after I graduated from Miami University in May of 1978, I was hired at the Cincinnati Enquirer as its first African-American sportswriter and as only its second full-time African-American reporter overall, and the Enquirer was founded in 1840. The summer before that, I was the paper's first African-American intern ever.
After I left the Enquirer in January 1980, I became the first African-American sportswriter for the San Francisco Examiner, the paper of William Randolph Hearst, Mark Twain and Jack London. At the Examiner, I also became the first African-American to cover an NFL team on a regular basis for a major newspaper when I was given the Oakland Raiders beat. I also became the third African-American ever to write a sports column on a regular basis for a major newspaper when the Examiner promoted me in the summer 1983.
That led to this: The National Association of Black Journalists gave me an award in 1999 for ranking as the longest-running African-American sports columnist in the history of major newspapers. I held that distinction through the end of April 2009 before I left the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after 25 years for FanHouse.
I'm also among the initial three African-Americans ever to become members of the 102-year-old Baseball Writers Association of America. I've voted for baseball Hall of Famers longer than any current African-American members of the association.
The point is, I never thought along my wonderful journey that I couldn't do these things, or that I shouldn't do these things. For inspiration, all I had to do was look to my parents, and then to my brothers, and then to our pasts -- where we consciously and subconsciously spent more time than not living the words from a 1960s song by the Impressions, one of our favorite groups as a family.
Keep on pushing.