Dr. Elsie Moore – 2018 Racial Justice Award Recipient

Professor and Director, School of Social Transformation,
Arizona State University

Dr. Moore was born in rural Sussex County, Virginia, to her loving parents. She was the seventh child of nine and was delivered by her grandmother who served as the midwife and herbal doctor within her segregated community.

Growing up, Dr. Moore innately knew she was going to college. However, she also believed she would return to her home in Sussex to serve as the Black community doctor, as her Grandmother had done. However, when she was 6 years old, laying on top of stacked wood, watching the sky, she thought, “I’m going to have to leave this wonderful home one day.” Time marched on and her family became involved with the Civil Rights Movement. Ultimately, Dr. Moore became one of the first children who integrated the local schools. It was such an anxiety-producing experience that her father died of a heart attack shortly after her enrollment. Dr. Moore persevered as a student at the “white school” through high school graduation. Ultimately, Dr. Moore graduated valedictorian and learned from a teacher at her school how to fund her college education.

Dr. Moore met her husband A. Wade Smith at the University of Chicago. Wade died young, leaving her with three minor sons to rear: Arthur, Aaron and Allen. Dr. Moore is most proud of effectively raising her three Black sons alone. Her sons are now working professionals who completed college at Dartmouth, ASU, Stanford and the University of Southern California. She is also most proud to have provided opportunities for non-white people and young women to pursue their professional dreams through admission to college, and to have provided convincing evidence that average IQ differences between ethnic/racial groups in America were established to justify their under-education.

The greatest challenges in her career have been her race and gender. She has been told by authority figures what she cannot do and suffered lack of support for her efforts. (For example, while in college she was advised to take a reduced course load, like student-athletes, because she is Black). She was also told that she could not become a proficient statistician because she is female. Luckily, she ignored the “advice.” Consequently, Dr. Moore’s advice to young women is: you decide what you want to be and do, and do it!

The mission of the YWCA is exemplified in Dr. Moore’s work. From her work in the Civil Rights Movement to her current work as Professor and Director of the School of Social Transformation, she strives to create equality and justice for all.

Dr. Moore enjoys flower-gardening in the desert, reading, and walking her Border Collie, Kara.

The YWCA is honored to present the 2018 Racial Justice Award to Dr. Elsie Moore.