Bowman declares P.W. Moore “one of the region’s greatest educators”
February 28, 2014 What do you do when you have more of an item than you can readily use? You give it away—whether it is books, photo albums, or documents. In the case of Dr. Glen Bowman, a professor of history and the next author of Elizabeth City State University’s historical account, it is information. Bowman completed the last six weeks speaking to audiences about Peter Wedderick Moore, the first principal of the State Normal School that developed over the years and became Elizabeth City State University. It’s the second year Bowman appeared at local sites–schools, churches, the Museum of the Albemarle-as a guest speaker. Bowman said he was impressed by the level of interest local citizens showed in his presentation, "P.W. Moore: Not a Biography-Highlights of his Service to Elizabeth City." It is a presentation that allows Bowman to share a wealth of information that might not appear in the history of the university due to space limitations. "It was exciting to meet people who attended the original high school named in honor of P.W. Moore. A lot of those graduates went on to do great things," Bowman said. "I met someone at one presentation who was related to P.W. Moore’s grandson, Garland Watt, a native of this city who went on to become a prominent Illinois attorney and judge for the Circuit Court of Cook County (Illinois)." Watt, who died in January of 2013, was the maternal grandson of P.W. Moore. Both, Bowman said, were staunchly dedicated to public service. Bowman said it was heart-warming to meet people in the audience who graduated from P.W. Moore High School in the 1940s. While the audience varied, he often welcomed senior citizens who are very happy to see the details of local history relayed. "P.W. Moore was a good man, a man of courage who overcame great difficulties personally and professionally. He was one of the greatest educators in this area, the most well-known educator of color this area has produced. How can we not know who he was?" Bowman anticipates additional public presentations, but he must first meet his deadline to complete the university’s history. The goal is to complete the book in time for the university’s 125th anniversary (2016). The book contract specifies a maximum of 65,000 words. In his research of the history of ECSU, Bowman found some information on P.W. Moore that does not appear in the late Dr. Evelyn Johnson’s 1980 history of Elizabeth City State University. Bowman expressed gratitude for the wealth of knowledge people shared during this process. Background information Peter Wedderick Moore, 1859-1934, was one of the area’s most renowned educators. He was a graduate of Shaw University, the first principal of Elizabeth City State Colored Normal School. Moore served that institution from 1891-1928. During that time, the normal school greatly progressed from offering elementary and secondary school level courses to offering those of a junior college. Enrollment increased from 23 to 355 and the faculty from two to 15 members by the time Dr. Moore retired as President Emeritus on July 1, 1928. The name "P.W. Moore" still rings a bell. The secondary school for African-Americans opened in 1923 as Paul Dunbar High. It was renamed P.W. Moore High in 1932, and today P.W. Moore Elementary School is on that site. On campus, P.W. Moore Hall was once the administrative hub on campus. Today, it still is a key building (Moore Hall), the home for General Studies, International Programs, and for classrooms offering history, political science, sociology, public administration, social work, geography, philosophy, and criminal justice. Bowman’s presentations revealed Moore’s service to the Elizabeth City community, his emphasis on the church, his work in banking, and also his tireless work in the name of education. "Moore was a model of educational leadership during Jim Crow, a time of great challenges. He had to overcome the state of North Carolina’s refusal to fund his school properly and fairly while other institutions, such as what we call today East Carolina University and UNC-Greensboro, received the lion’s share of state money. The work he and his fellow educators did during these trying decades should inspire all educators today." Elizabeth City State University will observe Founder’s Day on March 7 where P.W. Moore will be recognized for his contributions to the institution.