Daisy Nelson Moore



Continuing to bring more mixed-race history to light, Daisy Nelson Moore was a mixed-race teacher and civil rights activist who fought for the right of teachers to be evaluated based on their credentials rather than their race. Moore, born in 1910 to an African American father and a Native American mother, had a significant role in opening doors for teachers of color.


In 1944, Moore began teaching at Dunbar Elementary School, a segregated Black school in Globe, Arizona. In 1951 she got tenure, which was supposed to protect her from being unfairly terminated. However, in that same year an anti-segregation bill was passed in Arizona, and Moore was fired, apparently because since segregated schools such as Dunbar were closing, they didn't need teachers anymore. Firing Moore right as an anti-segregation law is passed seems very contradictory to me; the school board actually used a law that was supposed to help stop racism and discrimination, as an excuse to practice racism and discrimination.


However, Moore, along with her friend and colleague Marietta Cooper Bryant - who was also fired - brought a lawsuit against the Globe and Miami school boards, arguing that they were unjustly terminated. They fought for the right for tenured credidentialed teachers to teach in integrated classrooms, no matter what their race.


The school board of course denied their racism, and argued that the reason they fired Moore and Bryant was that it was a logical way to save money. But court testimony soon revealed that these teachers were dismissed because the school board didn't want Black teachers to teach white students. Judge Clifford C. Fairs agreed that they were fired because of racial discrimination, which deprived them of their constitutional rights. The Gila County Superior Court ruled in favor of Moore and Bryant.


Even so, the school board did not stop there. They were just completely set on trying to stop two highly qualified teachers of color from doing their jobs. They decided to appeal, using the economy as their reason for dismissing these teachers. But Moore and Bryant's attorney revealed that the Globe School Board had hired 12 new teachers since their dismissal, which invalidated the school board's argument about saving money. So the appeal ended up being unsuccessful. Finally, the Globe School Board stopped trying to prevent Moore and Bryant from teaching in Arizona schools.


Moore and Bryant were reinstated in 1952, and were able to continue to teach in the school district.


Although Daisy Nelson Moore played a huge role in fighting the racial discrimination against teachers, her story is not often told. This tends to be the pattern with the majority of people of color who shaped American history. I want to bring awareness to the accomplishments of this mixed-race civil rights activist by writing about her this week. It is important that we know about the people throughout history, such as Daisy Nelson Moore, who, in their fights for equality, opened doors for so many more people who came after them.