3.25.2013

Bigotry Saves Life of Ohio Black Woman

Another Moore Family mystery....

While rummaging through some old family papers and pictures with my 83 year old mother, this past weekend, we came across some old Jet Magazines. One of them dated July 23, 1953 has an article about a Black woman who missed a trip on the Titanic.

Yep. That Titanic. The one that sank in April of 1912.

Mrs. Mary Ethel Moore of Marion, Ohio should have been on that ill fated voyage. She told the story to Jet Magazine, this way;
Jet Magazine, July 23, 1953
Mrs. Moore along with her twin sister were in Europe working as maids for a wealthy white family. While there, she studied cosmetology in Paris and in Baden-Baden, Germany, taking advantage of opportunities that were not readily available to Blacks back in the good old Buckeye State of Ohio.

Mrs. Moore decided to return to America when she completed her studies, and rather than wait for her white family to come back with them, she made her own reservations.

Everything went well until she presented herself at the ticket office in London. Back in those days, we weren't Black, we were colored. The clerk at the office took one look at the dusky skinned Mrs. Moore and promptly told her that her reservation and ticket were not in order and that she couldn't get on the boat.

She said, she left the office and “cried bitterly,” for days. She was still crying and waiting to return to America when word came that the boat she had been booked on had hit an iceberg and sank, killing more than 1513 people on board.
                                                               Jet Magazine 7/1953

Mrs. Moore said she got on her knees and thanked God for not allowing her to get on the boat which she now knew from news reports, was named Titanic.

Mrs. Moore, eventually returned to Ohio and opened up a beauty salon with her twin sister, a shop that catered mainly to a white clientele, including the wife of President Warren G. Harding, who was from the area. Harding's wife was not one of the “white” clientele, but that's another story.

Jet Magazine interviewed Mrs. Moore about her experiences when a movie about the Titanic sinking premiered that year. The reporter asked if she intended to see the movie, to which she replied; “she had no desire to see a tragedy in the movies.”

The reporter then asked Mrs. Moore if she felt she might have been one of the lucky survivors of the Titanic sinking, if she had been on the ship, and she said,

I seriously doubt it. If the company was mean enough to deny me space on their clean new ship because of the color of my skin, I feel that my color would have been sufficient reason for them to keep me out of a life boat.” 

Mary Ethel Moore, Marion, Ohio

Mrs. Moore ended the interview by saying that she wanted to return to Europe one day. I don't know if she ever made it back. But I sure hope so.  

Now, the work for me begins. I've got to figure out which one of my relatives saved this article because we do have kin from the area, and this magazine was kept among the important family papers. It wasn't just a magazine that got saved or missed being thrown out. Just when I think I can't find anything more on my family, I run across something like this...


Post a Comment