Dr. Harold Moody 1882-1947

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Dr. Harold Moody was born on the 8th October 1882, in Kingston, Jamaica.

Harold’s interest in medicine was sparked by his father who ran a pharmaceutical business. 

Seeing his father’s success inspired Harold to move to London, England in 1904 to study medicine.

London

At university, Harold won numerous academic awards and always performed at the top of his class. Harold qualified as a doctor in 1910. 

Despite his achievements and qualifications, Harold began to face the colour bar in London. This meant he was actively discriminated against purely because of his skin.

After three years of looking for work in a new country, most people would head back home. 

Harold opened his own private medical practice in King’s Grove, Peckham in 1913.

Harold married white nurse Olive Mabel Tranter later that year, and they would go on to have six children.

At that time the National Health Service (NHS) didn’t exist in the UK and healthcare was expensive. 

Harold always treated children who were from impoverished backgrounds for free.

In 1921, Harold became the chair of the Colonial Missionary Society’s board of directors and in 1931 he was appointed president of the London Christian Endeavour Federation.

Harold spoke to British Black men and women who were deeply affected by racism in British society.

The LCP

This pushed him to open the League of Coloured People (LCP) at the YMCA on Tottenham Court Road, London on the 13th March 1931.

The founding members were: Belfield Clark, George Roberts, Samson Morris, Robert Adams, Desmond Buckle, C.L.R James, Jomo Kenyatta, and Una Marson.

The manifesto was to improve race relations around the world and to improve the social, educational, economic, and political interests of their members.

In 1937, the LCP began to give financial aid to Black people in distress.

The LCP worked hard to remove the stigma attached to skin colour and provided much-needed relief to Black migrants who relocated from Africa and the West Indies. 

They also mounted attacks on the colour bar which saw a relaxation of exclusionary practices in the forces during World War Two.

Writing about the LCP makes me think of the Justice League from DC Comics, but these were not fictional comic book heroes. These were Black people who used their position in society to benefit others.

How many times have I walked past the YMCA in Tottenham Court Road not knowing it was a vital part of Black History.

Harold was invited to the William Wilberforce Centenary celebrations which took place in Hull in July 1933

In his emotionally charged speech, Harold stated that he found it an honour to have been invited to talk at the event. 

He then went on to point out that if Black men and women had not proven themselves worthy of Wilberforce’s achievements there would have been no celebration of his life.

The Jamaican advised, “May I remind you also that the great work of Wilberforce was made necessary, not because of the sins of my own people, but the sins, the selfishness, and the short-sightedness of your own people.”

In January 1947, he began a fundraiser in Kingston, Jamaica which aimed to raise £50,000 to provide a cultural centre for West Indians and Africans in London. 

All this strenuous life’s work took its toll on Moody.

He returned to England after a five-month visit to the West Indies and America and sadly died ten days later on 24th April 1947.

Harold was commemorated with a blue plaque in 1995, at 164 Queens Road Peckham where he had his Private Practice.

Harold was also celebrated with his own Google Doodle on the 1st of September this year.

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One comment

  1. […] 1933, James moved to London and lent his support to the LCP, where he contributed to The Keys (which was a publication about the League of Coloured People) in […]

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