A voice for the underserved: Reverend David L. Moores’ lifetime mission of social and economic equality for all

Published 8:00 am Saturday, March 2, 2024

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David L. Moore, the second oldest of seven siblings, was born on January 12, 1956, to John and Louise Moore in Merced, California. Diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia, his prognosis was that he would not live past the age of 12. But Moore defied all odds and lived to the age of 63.

When he was ten, Moores’ father passed away leaving his mother to raise all the children as a single parent. His mother and other family members played a key role in his younger years and set the course for his future calling. “His aunts used to pick him up every Sunday and take him to church,” said Moores’ son Joseph. “And it wasn’t too long after he started teaching Sunday School. They saw a greatness in him, which led to his desire to become a pastor.”

After graduating from high school, Moore went on to pursue his undergraduate studies at California State University Fullerton and Pacific Christian College, where he earned his bachelor’s degrees in theology and business administration. During that time Moore also met his future wife Melinda, as both were members of the AME Zion Church. “My father saw her at a Queens’ contest and told her that one day he would marry her.”

As fate would have it, they traveled to Salisbury, North Carolina to attend Hood Theological Seminary. Upon graduation they both returned to California where they wed in 1980, as both of their families were there. They returned to North Carolina after being assigned by the church to their first charge at Saint Philip AME Zion Church in Salisbury. After several moves, they were eventually assigned to the Metropolitan AME Zion Church in Washington in 1986, where Moore pastored for 32 years. “Washington is where my father really started planting his roots,” said Joseph. “He saw a tremendous need along 4th street, which was considered the worst street in town. He created Metropolitan Low-Income Housing Development, Inc on June 7, 1990. This later went on to be renamed Metropolitan Housing and Community Development Corporation, Inc. It provided many individuals the opportunity to take advantage of the first-time homebuyer program, which created opportunities for those who never thought they would be able to purchase their own homes. His humble beginnings were always a driving force in his desire to help others.”

Moore fought to expand those opportunities by constructing, rehabilitating, and providing decent, safe, and affordable housing. The lasting impact of his work can still be seen today, as so many of the small brick homes along 4th Street and Respess Street, came about because of his passion to create opportunities for people. Through his partnership with Tom Vann at First South Bank, various opportunities were made available for the underserved population of Washington.

In 1999, Moore established the Metropolitan Community Credit Union. At its height it had more than 12,500 members. Metropolitan served economically challenged individuals and their families who were dismissed by the traditional banking institutions. It also offered small business loans to individuals and businesses who were being denied by existing banks.

In 2011 Rev. Moore’s late eldest son, Jonathan Jeffrey Lewis Moore gave him the idea to self-manage many of the affordable housing apartment complexes that the Community Development Corporation had developed. On February 25, 2011, Metropolitan Property Management was formulated, and they began management operations on September 1, 2011. “Metropolitan Property Management continues to build upon its founding principles,” said Moore, who became Executive Director following his fathers’ passing in 2019. “We provide property management services, credit counseling, and facilitate affordable housing to the low-to-moderate income population, as well as housing for seniors, veterans, and the disabled in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

In 1998 Moore started Metropolitan Community Health Services in a small trailer that has grown into the existing building of Agape Health Services. “He wanted to ensure that healthcare would be available to more than 3,000 patients per year,” said Moore. “They also developed the Ryan White programs for patients with HIV/AIDS.”

Moore also became a Beaufort County Commissioner in 1998, serving as its chair during his first term. He was instrumental in breaking the racial barrier and paving the way for minorities to serve on both the city council and board of commissioners. In 1988, as reported in the Washington Daily News, Moore spearheaded a class action lawsuit on behalf of the voters of Beaufort County. It alleged the system of at-large elections denied black voters an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. Up until then, there had never been a black member to serve on the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners or the Beaufort County Board of Education. The lawsuit, Moore v. Beaufort County, led to many significant changes in the countys’ political landscape. The following year, the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners adopted a plan to address the complaint. It expanded from five to seven members, who would be elected using limited voting, in which each voter would only cast one vote in the race for county commissioner each year instead of three. Limited voting allows minorities to focus on a single candidate and improve his or her chance of election.

Moores’ work has not only had a lasting impact on the community, but the lives of his family as well. There are so many memories,” said Joseph. “One of the most impactful is when I first came to him after being hired by the company in 2011 and telling him I did not know what I was doing. He told me that I would learn it. That was very impactful for me as he was willing to give me the latitude to learn and grow into the position but most importantly afforded me the opportunity to run a company and utilize my various business degrees.”

As for ones’ report card, Joseph recalled his father was quite a stickler and no grade was quite good enough. “Anything under a C, you knew it wasn’t going to be good when you got home. If it was a C and there were firm words. If it was a B, then “why isn’t it an A?” “And if it was an A then” “why isn’t it a higher A?

And then there was graduation day from NC Central when Rev. Moore was watching from the second row and saw his son crossing the stage to earn his MBA. “I looked up and saw him pointing one finger from each hand at me and smiling from ear to ear. I had done good by his book.”

James Moore followed in his fathers’ footsteps and is the pastor at Eternal Legacy Ministries in Washington. “For me, I always admired the spiritual, mental, and physical fortitude that he had. It is amazing to see what all he was able to accomplish with a life shortened by Sickle Cell Anemia. He always told me he would continue to do as much as he could for as long as he could. I saw him on days when he was in so much pain that he did not want to get out of bed, but somehow managed to crawl to the closet to put on his suit. It humbles me on a daily basis.”

His obituary following his passing in 2019 summed up the man who had such a dramatic impact on the community, as he would never rest in his personal mission for equality for all.

Growing up in poverty with a diagnosis of a dreadful, chronic disease only fueled and motivated young David to serve as a catalyst for social justice and economic equality for all. The world was made a better place because David was in it. The fabric of this community will forever be impacted by the imprint his legacy has left.

 In recognition of Black History Month, Clark Curtis has taken a closer look at some of the people, places, and events that have helped mold the story of Washington’s wealth of history and her interesting people.