Eddie Moore Jr. ’89
Sometimes in life the road just ends
Sometimes in life you never know where to begin
There are times when the hardened are pushed
And no matter the neighborhood your heart is mush
There has to be times when friends and family are essential
There has to be times you don’t reach full potential
But don’t let there be times when you agree to fail
And never let there be times when you agree to bail
— Eddie Moore Jr. ’89
As a first generation college student and a student of color, the opportunity to attend Cornell College changed my life. Growing up in public housing (the projects), the idea of college was not often talked about and therefore was seen as a dream, not as a reality. But when I got the opportunity to attend Cornell and be a part of the athletic program, I jumped at the chance, even though Iowa, lilywhite Iowa, was far from anything and everyone I knew in Florida. The snow and cold in Iowa didn’t look anything like the sand and asphalt of my world. But I came to Cornell, to Iowa, which opened up doors—cold, icy, snowy doors but still doors—and changed my life.
What I know is my mom always wanted me to have a chance. She watched my older brothers getting into trouble and wanted me to have “Moore.” And the “Moore” my mama wanted showed up in my high school basketball coach Jerry Voss ’79. A Cornell graduate, Coach Voss pushed me, shoved me, convinced me and helped me find my way to Iowa. And that is the real reason I ended up in Iowa. There were others involved like Rick Meredith ’47 and Steve Miller ’65. The bottom line, Cornell called, and I answered.
In my four years at Cornell several key events stand out as what brought me there and what kept me there, even as a black man from the South. First and foremost was the brotherhood established through being a member of the athletic teams. Athletics often allow you to bond with coaches and team members at a far more in-depth level than classmates and faculty. That feeling of belonging, the camaraderie, is essential for first-generation students and was key to not only getting me to Cornell but also keeping me there. I played football, basketball and baseball for all four years. Wow, what an incredible feeling it was to represent Cornell and be a member of a community who appreciated me for my athletic abilities and challenged me intellectually as I grew into a scholar-athlete. There were other wonderful things there: the Owls, the professors (Allin, Loebsack, and Sutherland), the local families (Millers and Martins), the staff in the athletic department, The Commons, and the teammates/lifelong friends like Mick Fletcher ’87, Joey Iazzetto ’91, Pat MacDonald ’89, Wes Butterfield ’91 and many “Moore.” They all connected to make me feel not only at home, but like I could do exactly what my mom wanted; I could have a chance.
As my knowledge and expertise expanded over the years, I became more connected and collaborative with my efforts. The passion, experience, and happenstance put me on the course for the creation of the first White Privilege Conference there in Iowa surrounded by corn and white folks. This is where it all started, at Cornell College, Iowa, in the middle of a cornfield. I must be honest and admit, however, that my path to this work actually all started with Anthony Allen and Thom Determan in Dubuque, Iowa. Anthony and Thom were the first people I saw dropping knowledge about consciousness and diversity issues. These guys had me excited and inspired and I really enjoyed the challenge while pushing folks about issues. Even though we were pushing folks, we were still able to build relationships. It was like playing basketball in the old neighborhood. You could talk about someone’s family on the court, but still be homies (close friends) off the court. This model really appealed to me. The relationship model, which has become key to the White Privilege Conference, was born.
Since my years at Cornell I have taken many paths and had many experiences that have made me who I am today. I founded America & Moore LLC (a consulting firm), and I established the National White Privilege Conference, now in its 16th year. The National White Privilege Conference has morphed into the umbrella organization The Privilege Institute, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to continuing the ideas born in that first White Privilege Conference at Cornell. But as a first generation African American male college student, the doors that opened for me, the professors who pushed me, and the friends and allies I made during those four years will stay with me as I continue to work for peace, equity, and social justice, to dismantle institutions of power, privilege, and oppression, and Moore.