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updated: 2/26/2012 6:06 PM

Author speaks about untold history of black U.S. marshals

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  • Robert Moore is one of only 68 African Americans appointed to serve as a United States marshals since the position was created in 1789. He wrote a book about the contributions of black marshals after realizing they were overlooked in history texts. Moore signs a copy of his book after a speech Sunday at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.

       Robert Moore is one of only 68 African Americans appointed to serve as a United States marshals since the position was created in 1789. He wrote a book about the contributions of black marshals after realizing they were overlooked in history texts. Moore signs a copy of his book after a speech Sunday at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Robert Moore is one of only 68 African Americans appointed to be United States marshals since the position was created in 1789. He wrote a book about the contributions of black marshals after realizing they were overlooked in history texts. Moore holds a copy of his book during a speech Sunday at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.

       Robert Moore is one of only 68 African Americans appointed to be United States marshals since the position was created in 1789. He wrote a book about the contributions of black marshals after realizing they were overlooked in history texts. Moore holds a copy of his book during a speech Sunday at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Sgt. Gary Neal of the Elgin Police Department presents a plaque to Robert Moore, who wrote a book about the contributions of black U.S. marshals after realizing they were overlooked in history texts. Moore, who was appointed to be a marshal by President Bill Clinton, discussed his book Sunday at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.

       Sgt. Gary Neal of the Elgin Police Department presents a plaque to Robert Moore, who wrote a book about the contributions of black U.S. marshals after realizing they were overlooked in history texts. Moore, who was appointed to be a marshal by President Bill Clinton, discussed his book Sunday at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 

Robert Moore, the founder of Black Marshal Publishing, has spent more than a decade researching the contributions of black U.S. marshals and sharing those stories with the world.

A marshal himself, Moore was appointed in 1994 by President Bill Clinton only to find the history of his fellow black officers strikingly absent from the public record.

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"Our accomplishments are out there," Moore said. "But if you can't find them, if you can't pick up a history book and read about them, it might as well not be there."

Moore spoke to a small crowd Sunday at the Gail Borden Public Library as part of a series of Black History Month events.

When Moore first started presenting his research, it was through a traveling exhibit. About a year ago, he published "The Presidents' Men: Black United States Marshals in America" and is working to get that information to the public. He is considered a national expert on the material.

Moore's history lesson Sunday was sprinkled with quick facts: Frederick Douglass was the first black marshal and he was appointed in 1877, the second black marshal was not appointed until 85 years later; Republican presidents are only responsible for appointing 18 of the 68 marshals; President Barack Obama appointed the first black woman marshal; and Bill Clinton appointed more than any other president when he named 21.

His book chronicles the achievements of the nation's African American marshals, who serve the terms of the presidents who appoint them. It's the first and only account of its kind, following up on barely two sentences from the official marshal service book.

Shelly Crain of Elgin attended Moore's presentation, saying she was interested in finding out more about black history. Her father was a different sort of black pioneer, serving as a Tuskegee Airman in World War II.

"I truly believe that knowledge is power," Crain said. "The more you know about things like this the more you can give back to the community."

Crain said she has been to a number of events this month at Gail Borden Public Library, where programming for Black History Month started with the seventh annual Black History Family Festival Feb. 4. The final event of the month will be a film screening and discussion of "Down in the Delta" at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Community Rooms A and B of the library, 270 N. Grove Ave.

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