Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cecil B. Moore shaking hands as Georgie Woods watches on at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel during a press conference to discuss plans for a rally at Girard College, Philadelphia

August 2, 1965
Credit Line
John W. Mosley Photograph Collection, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

Mosley’s photographs record the momentous events of August 2nd and 3rd, 1965, when the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Philadelphia to attend a rally in protest of the segregationist admissions policy of Girard College. In the photograph on the right, Mosley captures the moment Dr. King (left) shakes hands with Moore (center) while Georgie Woods (right), is watching. The photograph was shot at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel during a press conference to discuss plans for a rally at Girard College. Woods was a famous radio disc jockey at WDAS Philadelphia. He utilized his radio connections to establish a platform for his political activism.

The center photograph projects a sense of enthusiastic alliance as it pans out to focus on the size of the crowds. Mosley fills this image with vibrant textures: a mass of people raising their arms, Moore, Dr. King and others on the podium united and holding hands, a billowing American flag, trees, stone architecture of Girard College, and the sky behind.

After many years of efforts  to change the segregationist admissions policy of Girard College through legislation and the court system, Moore, the newly elected President of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, decided to bring the struggle to the streets by organizing a seven-month protest demonstration that demanded change. Moore promised to “rededicate Philadelphia’s civil rights campaigns to improving the condition of African-Americans.” The campaign against Girard College’s policies became the focus for the frustrations of the black community nationwide.

Moore was a prominent and skilled Philadelphia defense attorney and civil rights leader known for his militant style of activism. After graduating from College, he enlisted in the Marine Corps, serving overseas during World War II. Moore’s military experience greatly influenced his approach to civil rights activism. After the war, he settled in Philadelphia where he studied law at Temple University. He was known for his brash, often confrontational manner of speaking, cigars, fondness for bourbon whiskey, and flashy suits.

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