Rev. Maurice Moyer, civil rights leader

Maurice J. Moyer

Rev. Maurice J. Moyer was longtime civil rights leader and community activist who participated in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.

Moyer died March 6, 2012, at Christiana Hospital in Delaware. He was 93.

He was born Aug. 8, 1918, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Moyer founded Delaware’s first Black Presbyterian church in 1955. He served as pastor of the Community Presbyterian Church for 46 years before retiring in 1998. He was the first Black moderator of the New Castle Presbytery from 1963 to 1964.

As the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Wilmington branch from 1960 to 1964, Moyer was a strong presence in the battle for civil rights in Delaware. He participated in protests against laws that denied equal access to community life including schools and restaurants. Moyer participated in the crusade to change the Delaware Innkeepers Law, which allowed proprietors to refuse service to anyone, resulting in many racist policies. The law was changed in 1963.

In honor of Moyer, Delaware Governor Jack Markell ordered Delaware flags to fly at half-staff in the city of Wilmington and New Castle County.

“Few in their lives awaken as many hearts and minds, inspire as many to action or knit so strongly so many social bonds as Reverend Moyer,” Markell said.

“I’m honored to have known him.”

Moyer attended Lincoln University, Lincoln Theological Seminary and Princeton Seminary.

He graduated from Lincoln University in 1949. While a student at Lincoln, Moyer participated in many campus organizations including: Student Senate, Y.M.C.A. Cabinet, Dormitory Council, Glee Club and NAACP. During his time at Lincoln, Rev. Moyer joined Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. in 1947.

Moyer was preceded in death by his sons, Thomas Jerome Moyer and Norman Gayraud Moyer and siblings, Charles Moyer and Flora R. Moyer Hightower.

Moyer is survived by his wife, Vivian C. Moyer; grandson, Thomas Norman Maurice Moyer; former daughter-in-law, Edith Moyer and her sons Oliver and Olin Knotts; Beth Wailes, who was considered a granddaughter; sister-in-law, Gwendolyn Hill; and cousin, Russell Good.

Services were held March 9 at St. Paul UAME Church in Wilmington. Burial was in Silverbrook Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to Community Day Nursery, 519 Rogers Road, New Castle, Del. 19720.

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