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U.T. Dallas Professor A Part Of Civil Rights History

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - To this day, one of Dr. Bert Moore’s prized possessions is a letter he received from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As a theology student at Southern Methodist University, Moore traveled to Montgomery, Alabama to march alongside Dr. King in the sixties. Dallas was far behind in terms of progressing toward equality then.

“It was a time of a lot of racism in Dallas and there were protests, picketing and movements here at SMU and through out the city,” said Moore.

For his support in the equal rights movement, Moore faced scrutiny from classmates when he ran for student body vice president.

“There were posters put up saying I was an ‘integrationist,’ whatever that means… and that people shouldn’t vote for me,” he said.

But he won anyway. And in what Moore said was a much needed call to action, one year after marching in Alabama, Moore invited Dr. King, via letter, to speak at SMU. At first, Dr. King was hesitant but when Moore garnered help from University President, Willis Tate, Dr. King accepted the invitation.

Moore picked Dr. King up from Dallas’ Love Field and chauffeured him to McFarlin Auditorium on SMU campus. “He and I were just in the car for about 20 minutes and so I had a wonderful chance to ask him questions and talk to him,” Moore said.

Moore asked Dr. King about his time in Chicago and the Watts Riots. “He was pretty quiet but he answered questions very politely,” said Moore.

Dr. King spoke to a crowd that was standing room only that day. Decades later, another professor studying the civil rights movement, informed Moore that the letter he had written was archived and now a part of Civil Rights History.

“He went to the King Archives and found the letter,” said Moore. “I didn’t know it existed!”

Now Dean of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas, Moore said the lesson’s Dr. King taught and the example he set are still very pertinent today.

“We’ve made amazing progress since I was a student at SMU but you don’t have to go very far to still see the issues in equality.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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