Oral Histories

Interview of Alfred Moore

Assistant superintendent, principal, and educator of all ages in Los Angeles Unified School District.
Black Educators in Los Angeles, 1950-2000
African American History
Biographical Note:
Assistant superintendent, principal, and educator of all ages in Los Angeles Unified School District.
Slaughter, Michael
Moore, Alfred
Persons Present:
Moore and Slaughter.
Place Conducted:
Moore's home in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Recordings relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Michael Slaughter, former high school history teacher at Los Angeles public school; Ph.D., History, UCLA.Slaughter prepared for the interview by looking over the interviewee’s personal papers over a span of three days, scanning black newspapers for articles on programs connected to interviewee’s life, and reviewing secondary sources on the history of education in Los Angeles, most notably in connection to school desegregation.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. The interviewee's daughter, Alva Moore Stevenson, was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a few corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff. The first session of the interview had to be completely redone due to issues with the recorder. In the sixth session of the interview, the batteries for one of the microphones died. The interviewer replaced the battery and backtracked about one minute, picking up where the battery failed.
21 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series documents efforts to secure quality education for Black students in the Los Angeles area in the years 1950-2000. This includes the issues of integration/desegregation, increasing the numbers of Black teachers and administrators and the struggle against discriminatory hiring practices, securing equitable resources and safe learning environments, and maximizing achievement levels
Galveston, Texas--Describes household--Diphtheria--Segregated hospitals--Geography and economy of Galveston--Italian Americans and Jewish Americans in Galveston--Italian American playmates--Racism in Galveston--Father’s death--United Methodist Church--Household’s responsibilities and family routines--Meals, recreation and entertainment--Radio as an outlook to the world--Blacks could only go to one park in Galveston under Jim Crow--Legality of Galveston entertainment scene--Urban mobility in Galveston--Sister Phoebe and her occupation--Odd Fellows hall--Fishing as a dietary supplement--Family members’ occupations--Works as a paperboy--Sibling generosity--Grandparents’ history--Family’s level of education as atypical—The lack of college-educated blacks in Galveston—Reflections on early education--Segregated schools--Valuable lessons--The African American experience in classroom instruction--Jewish Americans in Galveston--Quality of education in Galveston--Primary school electives--Early experience with Jim Crow--Views on the positive aspects of segregation--Recollections on challenges to Jim Crow--Physical assault on brother-in-law--Segregated Galveston--First jobs out of high school--Black musicians from Chicago and New York--World War II and opportunities for African Americans--Los Angeles educational opportunities--Enrollment at UCLA--The appeal of UCLA--Black athletes at UCLA--UCLA class white student--Galveston gives him cold shoulder--Initially wears zoot suits at UCLA and receives cold reception from black students--Enrolls shortly after the Zoot Suit Riots--Few blacks on campus--Reasons for choosing UCLA--Adjusting to an integrated academic setting--Segregated railcars--Arrival at Union Station--Home at 23rd Street and Hooper Avenue--Describes his early excitement with Los Angeles--Entertainment and restaurants--Does not miss Galveston--Interurban red cars, buses, and streetcars--College parties on Sugar Hill--Central Avenue district--Gets job at the L.A. Pie Factory near home--Wednesdays at Lincoln Theatre--Hosting “Pigmeat” Markham and “Moms” Mabley--Father Divine’s prayer services--Central Avenue jazz scene.
Ethnic composition/dynamic in Galveston--Jim Crow and racial antagonism--Italian and Jewish Americans and African Americans--The absence of blacks in Galveston--“Salt and pepper” neighborhoods--Educated blacks--Early impressions of Los Angeles--First experience of integrated buses--First impressions of racial diversity and the Los Angeles black community--His first home in Los Angeles--Attending UCLA--Volunteering for the Air Force in 1944--Tuskegee--Basic Training at Keesler Air Force Base--Biloxi and New Orleans entertainment--“For Colored Only” signs-- Radio operator training--St. Louis nightclubs--Jazz trombonist Britt Woodman--Invited to Woodman’s home--General Dwight Eisenhower salutes him at McChord Air Force Base--Respect for gesture--Voting for Eisenhower--The Double V Campaign--Return to Los Angeles--Time at City College as music major and psychology minor--Advantages of the GI Bill--Music teacher Samuel Browne--Promotion for a women’s social club—Musicians promotion--Social clubs on the east side of Los Angeles--Talent booking--Events at Trocadero and Ciro’s on Sunset--High rent in Los Angeles—More on the Central Avenue jazz scene--Memories of African American life in Los Angeles--Decline of Central Avenue--Meeting his wife--Integrated staff at the Department of Water and Power—Discrimination in Beverly Hills--Courting his future wife--Public service as a place of opportunity for blacks--Wife’s biracial/bicultural background—Spanish in the home--Wife’s contribution to household--Moving further west in Los Angeles--Santa Monica freeway expansion--Class divisions within the black community.
Moving westward in L.A.--Having a child with Lesch-Nyan Syndrome--Living in a new neighborhood--Japanese Americans in Los Angeles--The Santa Monica Freeway--Residential vacancies--Residential listings in black newspapers-- “Black Real Estate Renaissance”--Housing discrimination in Lincoln Heights –Los Angeles natives versus newcomers--Westside/Eastside divide--Moore's children’s schooling-- Calvary Methodist Church--Serves as a radio operator in the Korean War--Accomplishments in higher education--Directs teacher training program--Teaching at the elementary school level--Teaching music--Friendships in the Jewish American community--Opportunities for teaching--Corporal punishment--Discriminatory placement practices within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)--Addressing the needs of black students—Early career obstacles--Mervyn Dymally--Using newspapers for classroom discussion--Working at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power--The Watts Uprising--Volunteering as a citizen on the Police Review Board--Impact of the Watts Uprising on public education—Mentors--The Civil Rights Movement and its impact on the Los Angeles school system.
The personal impact of the Watts Uprising--LAPD and racism--Citizen volunteering--Teaching in the black community--Teaching philosophy--LAUSD and its resources--Experience versus education--“Balanced curriculum” as a program of study--Standardized testing--Teaching in special education--Teaching strategies--79th Street School and its surrounding community--Parent involvement--Community activism--The black experience in the curriculum--Reduction in LAUSD resources--36th Street School-- Nora Sterry Elementary--Common assumptions in special education--Realignment of educational values--The Office of Urban Affairs and engagement with War on Poverty initiatives--Community relations consulting--Community organizing training--Community activist Margaret Wright--Grassroots activism--Local Civil Rights Movement objectives--The Neighborhood Adult Participation Program--Working with Community Advisory Councils, Operation Bootstrap, and the Black Congress—Tensions at work--Addressing community concerns--Vocational repercussions for activism--Under scrutiny--The effectiveness of the Office of Urban Affairs.
Neighborhood Adult Participation Project--Office of Urban Affairs--Community demands for local education--Divergent voices in the black community--Activist Marnesba Tackett--Teacher salaries--Studies for master’s degree--Decision to pursue a career in administration--Preparing for administrative credential exam--Becoming a principal at Hooper Avenue Elementary School--The need for black administrators in LAUSD--Assistant principal at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School--Cultural awareness assemblies--Black power and education speech--Diverse opinions on education in the black community--Hooper Avenue Elementary--Neighborhood around Hooper Avenue Elementary--Challenges at Hooper--Implementing the Behavior Research Laboratory (BRL) Sullivan Reading Program and the Diagnostic Prescriptive Whole System--Institutional and community engagement--Changes in relationship between school and community--The behavior and attitudes of students and discipline at Hooper Avenue--Teachers at Hooper—Appeal for the closure of a nearby house of assignation-Teachers’ and custodians’ strike--A school fire as an alleged case of arson—Volunteers from churches and universities--Relationship with teacher’s union--Dressing professionally--Dealing with gangs--The Southwest Central Planning Council--Marnesba Tackett and the United Civil Right Council--Relationship with district superiors--Cultural awareness consulting--DA investigation of cultural awareness training--Proposition 14--Desegregation case--Problems with superintendent--Assistance from the county--Classroom carpets and new flooring—Improving the test scores at Hooper Elementary.
Working with Latino advocates--Contributing to the Serrano Case--School desegregation in Los Angeles--Participating with the Council of Black Administrators—Writing the amicus curiae brief for the Crawford case--Objections to his amicus brief--More on Marnesba Tackett and other activists--District positions on desegregation--The black community’s stance on desegregation--Reflections on desegregation efforts--Demographic shifts--Jesse Jackson’s local Push/Excel--Disappointments with Push/Excel--Experience with Operation Bootstrap--Working with high school parolees--Impact of deindustrialization--School repairs--Summer Gang Intervention Program at UCLA and Claremont--95th Street Preparatory School--Neighborhood around 95th Street Prep--Latinos at 95th Street Prep--The “Effective Schools Process”--Pre-school classes at 95th Street Prep.
The “Effective Schools Process” at 95th Street Prep--Getting teacher buy-in and developing collegiality in teacher development--Struggling teachers and problem teachers--Community education aids--Students' weekly report card and assessment--Daily homework assignments—Engaging with parent groups and councils—Implementing Thelma Duncan’s Proficiency in English Program (PEP)--Providing after school support--Gang presence at 95th Street Prep--Problems at Hooper--Problems regarding Moore's work outside of the district--Relationship with the central office--Congressman Augustus Hawkins--The Health Education and Welfare Committee--Key moments in career--Advancing to Region D superintendent--Region D--His job as Region D superintendent--Attitudes of the Westside principals and teachers--Resistance to his administration--His reassignment to planning and policy superintendent--Leading the committee to stop violence in schools--Objection from Rita Walters--Dealing with teenage pregnancy and AIDS--Resistance from conservatives--Committee to reduce drop-out rates—Career challenges and rewards.
Title I money and the implementation of the Proficiency in English Program (PEP)--The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) criticism of PEP-- Afrocentric curriculum development--Impediments to African American student achievement--Serving minority children--Long-term changes in the California educational system--The shift away from phonemic pedagogy--District support of teachers in the past--Educational achievements and setbacks among black students during the late twentieth century--Personal responsibility and uplifting African Americans from poverty--Educational and professional regrets--Factors that contributed to his success--The decline in black fraternal and social organizations--His overall development as an educator.