Pictures of Douglas Moore:
1960 - One of the young men in dark suits, white shirts and skinny black ties standing behind Martin Luther King at the Raleigh Easter Conference where plans were made for King's nationwide civil rights movement.
1961-66 - A clergyman in flowing, black robe, giving communion to a youngster in Africa.
1970 - Sunglasses, black leather jacket and goatee, the uniform of militaucy, cutting a credit card in half in a well staged protest against the decision of a large city bank and credit card company to remove credit card franchises from black businesses.
1978 - On the campaign trail for City Council Chairman, holding up his red-jacketed book, "The Buying and Selling of the D.C. City Council," and waving it back and forth as his opponent, Arrington Dixon, denies Moore's charge that he "takes notes from the board of trade like the Redskins' quarterback takes instructions from the bench."
The years have taken Moore through many changes, from southern boycotts to Stokely Carmichael's militant Black United Front, from Hickory, N.C., to France and Africa. It now seems sudden and surprising to hear that the controversial, loud-talking Moore is 50.
Moore has changed with D.C. politics. He first changed from the dramatic militant of the early '70s to the proper, conservatively attired professor Moore of 1974 to win the at-large City Council seat. Then Moore changed again in the public eye as a series of bizarre incidents cast in sometimes comic and tragic lights. This year Moore is back in three-piece suits, speaking of his "analytical mind," his documentation - "It's in the book" and his interracial support, including "my many white friends," to dispel his image as a rabble-rouser who would be out of place as head of the City Council. He is battling to prove he should be regarded as more than the "man who bit a tow-truck driver."
Moore is fighting for his political life. If he loses, he won't return to his at-large Council seat. He will be out of D.C. politics for the first time since the beginning of home rule, the riots and the "movement."
"I don't really think that much about Doug Moore," said Moore, carefully and slowly driving through the crush of rush-hour traffic on Rhode Island Avenue. A towel tucked inside his collar soaked up perspiration. At every stoplight he pulled off his glasses, squinting through heavy, tight eyelids, and wiped the moisture from his lenses.
"I was an activist before the '60s," said Moore, turning his yellow Volkswagen off Rhode Island Avenue and heading for his home on Newton Street, NE. "You see, I've been struggling since I was 12 . . . Maybe I'm a populist. I've had people tell me, 'Doug Moore, you're a populist.' What's a populist? I've got to look that up when I get home."
Checking carefully at every intersection that did not have a stop light in his Brookland neighborhood, Moore suddenly announces his political anthem: "Doug Moore believes the mass of the people should determine public policy. That's basic to what Doug Moore believes. There's something vulgar about special interest groups like the board of trade having a big impact on the city. They're not even the biggest employer in the city."
Once he gets into his big corner house, which is best characterized by the worn, lumpy, old armchairs in some rooms, and an ivory tusk that is as huge as it is beautiful, Moore changes out of his suit. When he comes downstairs he is casually dressed, wearing stacked-heel, black leather shoes with no socks. Then he pushes off the shoe and stretches his legs out on an ottoman.
Sitting in a back room with the big windown open to lush green slopes and cool breezes, Moore is relaxed until a reporter asks about a court order for him to take a psychiatric exam.
"You know, I know about people like you," he said, pulling his legs in and then standing straight up. "You can only think about one thing, you're obsessive.You need psychiatric help . . . you're dumb . . . I'm tired of you; get out of my house; that's it, get out, right now."
A sociology major in college, a religion student at Howard and a theology student at Boston University, Moore apparently educated himself to be a social force.
"I came to Washington after I left Africa because I saw that the situation here was the same as in Africa . . . In Africa the blacks are in the bad houses, the bad schools, just like in Washington."
Moore went to Africa in late 1960, convinced, he said, that it would have been too easy for him to stay in North Carolina and become a Methodist bishop. In Africa, after stopping in France to study French at Grenoble University, he became chaplain at the former University of Elizabethville, now Lubumbushi, and director of a Methodist school there.
In 1966 Moore came to Washington and found the civil rights movement in bloom. He worked for the Redevelopment Land Agency, among other groups, while getting a hand in the politics of the "movement." In February 1968, he was a board member of Stokely Carmichael's Black United Front.
After Martin Luther King's assassination, Moore, by his own admission, became outraged and resolved that the civil rights movement needed to shift into high gear. For Moore, that apparently meant organizing. In 1968, he helped organize the D.C. Statehead Party, which became the political base of the late Julius Hobson. In 1969, Moore became head of the Black United Front.
By 1971, Moore had made an entrance into organized politics with a campaign for D.C. delegate. He lost badly, finishing behind a candidate who ran on a homosexual rights platform.
He stayed active in the remnants of "movement" politics, and in 1974 won the at-large City Council seat with more votes than any other council candidate. His opponents said he won because voters confused him with the Rev. Jerry Moore, another council candidate.
Then began a string of incidents, the stuff of front-page comic opera, that led to Moore's loss of the chairmanship of the council's powerful building guards; Moore throws rocks building guards; Moore throws rocks through a woman's window after ramming his car into hers; Moore bites at tow-truck driver, claiming he thought he was being set up for an assassination.
Do voters think Doug Moore is bigger and more important than the sequence of bizarre events that are now better known than anything else he has done in his 50 years?
People ask me, "What will happen if you don't win?", Moore said from the church pulpit recently. "I tell them I will win but if I don't I don't care. I can't be a has-been . . . Larry Brown used to play for the Redskins and now he's a has-been . . . But I will not be a has-been because our God is eternal and will not be a has-been."