Morris Marcellus Moore (left) lived a life of courage, determination and love for black Floridians. He died on November 23, 1900 at his Jacksonville home. Fortunately, the African Methodist Episcopal bishop knew how to live, inspiring and touching the lives of many he touched through his ministry.
Moore, a native Floridian from Quincy, became a preacher and rose through the ranks of the AME church to become a prominent minister. During the Reconstruction period, however, it was his involvement with his congregation that got him in trouble with Daniel A. Payne, an AME bishop who had successfully organized the church’s missionary work in the South.
Payne stressed education and high morals, but was dubious about the AME church getting too involved in the racial politics that was so prevalent in Florida and other southern states. Moore, along with several other ministers in the AME Florida conference, felt otherwise. For that, Moore was fired in 1886.
Fortunately, for Florida and the AME church, Moore didn’t settle for the setback. In 1900, he was elected bishop of Liberia and Sierra Leone. Ironically, Moore was the second black Floridian to serve as a bishop representing Sierra Leone. His predecessor was Bishop Abram Grant, who founded the AME’s Liberian Conference after serving as a county commissioner in DuVal County.
Sources: “Florida’s African Connections in the Nineteenth Century” by Canter Brown Jr. and Larry Eugene Rivers from Africa in Florida: Five Hundred Years of African Presence in the Sunshine State; edited by Amanda B. Carlson and Robin Poynor University Press of Florida 2014 p. 169; and Laborers in the Vineyard of the Lord: The Beginnings of the AME Church in Florida, 1865-1895 by Larry Eugene Rivers and Canter Brown Jr. University Press of Florida 2001 p. 146-147
Photo Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory