10 minute read

Barbara C. Moore Biography

Influenced by Church and Family, Found Career and Civil Rights Movement


University administrator, international sorority administrator

In 2002 Barbara C. Moore became, by unanimous vote, the 22nd international president, or Grand Basileus, of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, a black Greek letter organization with 750 chapters and 100,000 members located in the United States, Germany, and the Virgin Islands. In addition she is vice president of Institutional Advancement at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, and has been an educator and advancement officer for more than 30 years. Moore received the Living the Legacy Award from the National Council of Negro Women and has been inducted into Zeta Phi Beta's South Carolina and Southeastern Regional Halls of Fame. Moore is a member of many organizations and sits on the board of the YWCA and the Richland County, South Carolina, National March of Dimes Foundation.

Moore was born on December 27, 1949, in Columbia, South Carolina. She was the youngest of three daughters of Wilhelmina and Albert Crockett. Moore grew up in a home filled with love, a sense of family, and a deep awareness of issues facing blacks. As a teenager during the 1960s she experienced the forced integration of public schools, an experience that exposed her to the many disparities that existed between African-American communities. "I had a family who was concerned with what was going on and they talked about it to me," Moore said in an interview with Contemporary Black Biography (CBB). "They were cognizant of what was happening relative to our civil rights."

Influenced by Church and Family

Moore's father passed away when she was 13 years old, leaving Wilhelmina to raise her youngest child alone. Attributing her own sense of values to her mother, Moore says, "I watched her never giving up. She encouraged me to strive and encouraged my spirituality." In addition Moore credits her church community for providing leadership skills. She recalls the summer revivals, a tradition in southern Baptist churches, as a special homecoming event that served as a sort of family reunion and training ground. "I watched my aunts and the women of the church during a time when women were not in the forefront. Often they were the Sunday school teachers and the fundraisers. At the time we didn't think of them as fundraisers. To us they simply brought the pies and planned the Christmas and Easter programs. It was in the church that young African Americans learned patience, obedience, and respect for authority," Moore told CBB. Moore's grandmother, with her soft-spoken, low-key manner, was assistant superintendent of the Sunday school. Although it was an unusual role for a woman at that time, she was an effective leader who inspired Moore. Watching her, Moore said, "I never had to doubt that I too could do things."

Moore feels that the influence of family in a child's life is a key factor in their growth and well-being. "Children today don't understand that having a sense of family strengthens you and gives you a sense of belonging," Moore told CBB. "I never questioned where I belonged and I knew I was loved. In most cases a child can't tell you why they know someone loves them. But when they are going to school they can tell you when they feel unloved."

Moore graduated from high school in 1968 and began undergraduate studies at Benedict College with plans to become a biologist or medical technologist, but her interests changed while working on a local television show called Job Man Caravan. Because of limited employment opportunities, the show was of particular value to African Americans: it offered them a means to seek and apply for jobs around the state. At the station Moore came to realize her strengths, particularly her ability to communicate. The experience motivated her to consider other career possibilities. For this reason Moore said that students should place an emphasis on communications, regardless of their major. "You'll find out that your ability to articulate can make a difference," said Moore.

Found Career and
Civil Rights Movement

Upon college graduation in 1971 Moore found it difficult to get accepted into the medical technology certification program. After marrying a local businessman, Norman Moore, she focused her efforts on helping her husband with their dry cleaning business. Learning to operate her husband's family business allowed Moore to get to know the community, and she began to get more involved in the civil rights movement. "My in-laws had been in the dry cleaning business for decades," Moore told CBB. "They knew the people of our community and were very active in the movement."

Although still supportive of the family business, in 1975 Moore decided to embark on a career of her own and applied for a position as an admissions counselor and recruiter at Benedict College. When they called one year later for a second interview Moore was hired. Her work required extensive travel and there were few female recruiters on the road at the time. Moore accepted the position as a challenge and, she said, "I decided I would survive." In fact, she excelled at the job, and a year later Moore moved into another male-dominated department, the office of development, as director of alumni affairs. Development work involves a great deal of fundraising; during this time Moore conducted a successful citywide campaign for the United Negro College Fund.

As a strategic career move Moore spent a year in New Hampshire at Dartmouth College as an intern learning to become a development officer. Her work was supported by a program called CASE (for Council for the Advancement in Support of Education), funded by the Ford Foundation. "I took a big chance going there," Moore said. "I had a three-year-old child whom I left with my family." Despite the difficulties, taking advantage of this opportunity paid off, for Moore was soon promoted to vice president for institutional advancement at Benedict. This position gives Moore oversight of several departments including the offices of alumni affairs, public relations, church relations, corporate and foundation support, government affairs/grants and contracts, and Title III. As such she is in charge of generating funding for the institution and responsible for media and public relations activities.

At a Glance …

Born Barbara C. Moore on December 27, 1949, in Columbia, SC; married Norman Moore, 1971; children: Walletta. Education: Benedict College, BS, biology, 1971; University of Chicago, MS, education, 1986. Religion: Baptist.

Career: Benedict College, Columbia, SC, admissions counselor, recruiter, director of alumni affairs, and vice president of institutional advancement, 1975–; Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Washington, DC, international president, 2002–.

Selected memberships: National Association of Female Executives; Council for the Advancement and Support of Education; National Council of Negro Women; Midlands YWCA, board member; Richland National March of Dimes Foundation, board member.

Selected awards: National Council of Negro Women, Living the Legacy Award, 1983; Zeta Phi Beta Southeastern Region, Hall of Fame, 2000.

Addresses: Office—Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., 1734 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009.

Encouraged by Educators
and a Vision

Inspired by the community service activities of Zeta Phi Beta and especially impressed with the work of Dr. Annie Hanberry, a Benedict College graduate, retired high school principal, and sorority member, Moore joined the local graduate chapter in 1976. Although Moore had no thoughts of seeking an officer position, she was urged on by others in the organization. "Sometimes leaders are encouraged to assume roles that maybe they did not initially set out to do," she told CBB. "I was encouraged by Dr. Hanberry and Dr. Eunice Thomas. Somehow they saw something I did not see in myself." With their support Moore became South Carolina state director for Zeta Phi Beta.

Moore's accomplishments and hard work with the organization led her to its top office in 2002. Moore told CBB that the path to the president's office requires an "understanding and desire to improve conditions in the African-American community. It allows you to have a vision of what you would want to see happen." Moore also works to raise the visibility of the sorority's accomplishments. "We have done excellent work throughout the years with little recognition," Moore said.

"In many instances black Greek letter organizations have been front runners in efforts to improve our communities, but have not gotten that story out," Moore told CBB. "Black Greek letter organizations were formed by college educated men and women during the early 1900s at a time when it was a privilege to be educated. They should have been the front-runners; they should have led a fight in everything you could think about as it relates to the betterment of our communities. They had an obligation."

Started Sorority Service Initiatives

Moore started Z-HOPE (Zetas Helping Other People Excel) because of her belief that blacks must give back to help others excel. Z-HOPE, which Zeta Phi Beta has expanded into Africa, was developed to "enhance, cultivate and empower" participants in the community to develop healthier lifestyles through a multi-dimensional outreach program. With a holistic approach, it seeks to improve the "spirit, body, and mind of women, youth, seniors, men, and international women of color." In reviewing reports like "The State of Black America," an annual report on the progress and plight of African Americans, and "Healthy People 2010," a national report on health objectives issued by the federal government, the sorority found that there is still plenty of work to be done to eliminate inequities in the black community. "We continue to experience more preventable diseases then anyone else," Moore said. "You can't do anything without good health."

Zeta Phi Beta selected ten health indicators from the reports that would receive their focus: physical activity, substance abuse, obesity, responsible sexual behavior, tobacco use, mental health, immunization, environmental quality, injury and violence, and access to health care. "These are important areas we need to work on," Moore told CBB. "We need to develop programs that will create an awareness of these matters. For instance, we can teach our children to eat better. It needs to start in the home. We need to talk to the community about depression. Or if you are allowing someone to beat you then you are probably ruining your life." In response to these issues the sorority has developed a program to deal with domestic violence called Love Should Not Hurt. In support of Z-HOPE, local chapters invite healthcare professionals to speak to groups about the issues. Sorors are assessed and awarded for their efforts.

The Zetas Organizational Leadership Program (ZOL) was implemented by Moore as a means to develop and train strong leaders in the organization. "It has a certification component for national officers and its goal is to empowers women of color to help themselves and their communities," Moore told CBB. "Zeta plans to take this program abroad."

In addition, Moore encourages local chapters to continue to form coalitions with other organizations to attain common goals. Zeta Phi Beta teams with the March of Dimes to promote better prenatal care for mothers through the Stork's Nest program and through various fundraising activities. Local chapters work with social service agencies to supply mothers and their newborns with layettes and much needed items. The sorority also partners with the American Red Cross, the National Cancer Society, and many other sororities and black churches to expand its outreach. Moore is also seeing the organization through a $2 million renovation of its national headquarters in Washington, DC. Next she would like to see the sorority build a women's health and prenatal care clinic in Africa.

Moore is passionate about her work to improve the health and living standards of blacks and told CBB: "I have a real desire to make a difference. That is why I built an evaluation piece into the program. I don't want to be someone who says that my chapters have done something. I want to be able to prove that they've done it."

To enlighten young black women today about the true purpose of black sororities, Moore said, "They should understand that joining a black sorority means making a life-long commitment to serving one's community. It is not about anything other than that. It's about strengthening our commitment and keeping the right perspective. Stay focused on what you desire to be in life and be good at it."



For Your Information (Washington, DC), November 15, 2004, p.1.

The Louisville Scene (Louisville, KY), November 15, 2004, p. 1.


"Benedict College Vice-President Elected as Zeta's New Leader," Black Greek Network, www.blackgreeknetwork.com/site/newsletter/zetanews_aug02.htm (November 13, 2004).

"Division of Institutional Advancement," Benedict College, www.benedict.edu/divisions/insadv/title3/bctitle3.html (November 20, 2004).

"National Social Action Committee," Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., www.zphib1920.org/socialaction/index.shtml (November 18, 2004).


Additional information for this profile was obtained through an interview with Barbara C. Moore on November 24, 2004.

—Sharon Melson Fletcher

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Barbara Barbieri McGrath (1953–) Biography - Personal to Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930) Biography