Members of the community gathered Thursday to remember Tacoma civil rights icon Harold Moss, who died last week. Services were held on what would have been his 91st birthday.
People regard Moss as a trailblazer who fought, among other injustices, the discriminatory real-estate practice of redlining.
Thursday’s events included a socially distanced funeral with people in their cars, and a procession over the East 34th Street bridge, which was renamed for Moss last year.
During the public memorial, Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards said the people inspired by Moss — someone she considered a father figure — will continue what he started.
“I love you, I hope I made you proud, and I want you to know that we will pick up the baton that you passed to us on Monday, Sept. 21,” Woodards said. “And we will continue to run this race until we achieve the goal that you wanted to see.”
That goal, Woodards said, was to make Tacoma a city of destiny for everyone, no matter the color of their skin, where they come from, or who they love. Woodards said Moss is the reason she's able to be mayor today.
For a younger generation of Tacoma residents, Moss also will be regarded as a friend and ally in the fight for social justice. Chris Jordan is a community organizer with the Tacoma Action Collective. He met Moss in 2015, at a gathering of African American leaders.
“It’s not every day that you get positive reinforcement from elders around direct action,” Jordan said. “What really stuck out to me about Harold Moss was that he really encouraged us.”
As the hearse drove over the Harold G. Moss Bridge during Thursday’s procession, cars honked and people waved. Firefighters raised a massive flag over the street in honor of the late mayor emeritus. Moss was Tacoma’s first Black city council member and mayor, as well as the first Black member of the Pierce County Council.
People lining the bridge included people who knew, worked with, and were inspired by Moss.
“I am a member of the Black Collective, and Harold G. Moss is pretty much like family,” Chona Lawson said.
Lawson’s twin sister, Von-Na Chism, who is with the Black Student Union at Tacoma Community College, says Moss was all in when it came to supporting you and helping you overcome obstacles.
“Without him, there’s a lot of people who would not be in positions where they are," Chism said. "There’s a lot of people who would not have the wisdom or the guidance. He made such a difference.”
Chism said the most important advice he gave her: “Give 'em hell.”
She says Moss told her, “if you stick with your mission, you can’t go wrong.”