Funding the Civil Rights Movement

Mollie Moon was born in 1912 in the state of Mississippi. She trained as a pharmacist but also studied education and social services. After a career as a pharmacist, she refocused her life’s work on to one of lifting up the status of African Americans.

She worked on the founding of the National Urban League Guild in 1942. The goal of the Guild was to raise funding for racial equality. She worked as the Guild’s president for 48 years.

Mollie Moon is little known today but she was a critical figure in the civil rights movement. While much of the better-known civil rights activities were those at the grassroots level, what is less known is where the money came from for these activities. The source of that money was in New York City where those with substantial wealth could be sought out

Over the years of living in New York City, Mollie Moon became a well-known socialite. She could attract those with wealth as well as popular entertainers to partners where funds were raised for the civil rights movement. The most famous of those parties was the Beaux Arts Ball. It was perhaps the only time that African-Americans from all walks of life could join together with the famous few in the city. Some of the most famous entertainers at the time would perform.

The Ball began in Harlem in the ’40s and moved to midtown NYC in the ’60s. The money raised was used to fund voter registration, youth education programs, and journalists covering the civil rights movement.

There were those who criticized her because of how she used the wealthy elite as a source of funds. That’s a tension that arises with every social progress fundraising effort. There is no evidence to suggest that the funds raised by Mollie Moon were ever used to influence the direction of the civil rights movement. What she did in raising money was not one of just asking for support. Instead, she raised funds by showing the beautiful side of the African-American experience.

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            “Think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege.” – John D. Rockefeller

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