Activist seeks peace on the city's streets

Anton Moore leads a nonprofit, Unity in the Community, that has held community events for several years. He also is a Democratic committeeman.
Anton Moore leads a nonprofit, Unity in the Community, that has held community events for several years. He also is a Democratic committeeman. (MATTHEW HALL / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 21, 2014

For Anton Moore, engaging people through social media, word of mouth, and street-corner conversation has been a way of building bridges between people and communities.

Concerned about violence this year between young men in his South Philadelphia community and those of Southwest Philadelphia, Moore, 28, thought of bridges.

"What I wanted to do was open the dialogue up," Moore said last week, "to bring leaders together to build a rapport and get on a first-name basis so that we could work together."

Using social media, fliers, and word on the street, Moore and Southwest Philadelphia activists Mont Brown and Rasheen Crews went to work.

Though clashes between young people from South and Southwest Philadelphia have been known to take place for decades, police said they had no recent reports of increased violence between the two communities this year.

On a Monday evening in late July, Moore, Brown, and Crews hosted twin rallies, one in South Philadelphia at Stinger Square Park, 32d and Reed Streets, the other in the Southwest at Kingsessing Recreation Center, 50th Street and Kingsessing Avenue.

After the rallies, featuring performances by local rappers and poets and remarks by community leaders and antiviolence activists, the groups from both rallies - about 600 people - marched several blocks to the Grays Ferry Bridge.

On the bridge, the young people talked about, rap, hip-hop, and ways to stop violence.

"It was beautiful," Moore said.

Moore, who leads a nonprofit organization, Unity in the Community, has hosted community events for several years, including an annual block party at 20th Street and Snyder Avenue. He also was elected as a Democratic committeeman in South Philadelphia this year.

Bilal Qayyum, a longtime antiviolence activist in the city, hailed Moore as an innovative young leader in efforts to prevent violence.

"Anton is one of those individuals who has stepped up and done a lot of organizing and great things in South Philadelphia and his neighborhood to reach the population that needs to be reached to resolve conflicts that could result in violence," Qayyum said Wednesday.

Moore said he is able to relate to young people in tough neighborhoods because he grew up in one.

He was raised in the Tasker Homes projects in South Philadelphia, one of five siblings in a home headed by his mother. He said his father spent time in prison. Moore is quick to note that he has never been arrested.

A graduate of Bartram Motivation High School, Moore has worked in radio as a producer at WUSL-FM and Power 99 and in television at BET in New York as a producer on Rap City, a hip-hop show.

He said his work in those fields helped him connect with young people.

"I'm a kid from a single-parent home whose father was incarcerated," Moore said. "Them seeing me working in radio and TV . . . and doing all these things, people in the community know I'm not full of it."

Lorraine Ballard Morrill, director of news and community affairs for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment in Philadelphia, said this week she hired Moore as an intern while he was a teen.

"He called me kind of out of the blue and asked if he could be an intern at Power 99," Ballard Morrill said. "I thought at the time he was kind of young; he was still in high school. I kind of put him off at first, but he was so persistent that, in the end, I hired him.

"He rose through the ranks because of his tremendous energy and his talent," Ballard Morrill said. "He's taking so much of his passion to do good in his community."

State Rep. Jordan Harris of South Philadelphia said he has known Moore for many years.

"The work that he does is important because he engages young people and meets them exactly where they are," he said. "He provides them with a positive message that they need to hear."

Asked why he got involved in antiviolence efforts, Moore said: "When you see African Americans killing one another in the street, you just can't stand back and allow it to happen."


vclark@phillynews.com

215-854-5717

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