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William Moore

Photojournalist William Moore was born on May 23, 1933. He graduated from Oakland Technical High School, and went on to receive his B.S. degree in photography from Laney College in Oakland, California.

Upon graduation, Moore worked as a freelance photographer for various black-owned newspapers, magazines and radio stations. Then, in 1968, Moore was hired as a television news cameraman for KTVU in Oakland, California, making him the first full-time African American news cameraman in commercial television in the State of California. He was hired alongside Dennis Richmond, one of the first African Americans to become chief anchor of a major-market TV newscast, as a result of a federal court mandate. In 1969, while working for KTVU, Moore was hired by the Associated Press as a freelance photographer. He was eventually promoted to chief photographer at KTVU.

As a cameraman, Moore covered such events as the Loma Prieta earthquake, the Oakland Hills Fire, the O.J. Simpson murder trial, and the murders of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. He also filmed anti-war and civil rights movements and demonstrations of the late 1960s and 1970s, as well as the Nicaraguan earthquake of 1988. In addition, Moore traveled and worked internationally, filming in many countries including Haiti, Italy, Brazil, Kenya, and South Africa. He retired from KTVU in 1996, and, in 2003, Moore was hired as an adjunct professor at Ohlone College in Fremont, California, where he teaches digital video in the college’s broadcasting and television department.

Moore has been a volunteer for Seven Tepees, an afterschool mentoring and enrichment program for middle and high school students in San Francisco. He was also a board member of the Committee on the Shelterless, a program that assists the homeless in Sonoma County. Moore lives with his wife, Belva Davis, in San Francisco. They have two children: Steven Davis, owner of a catering business, and Darolyn Davis, owner of a public relations firm.

William Moore was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 7, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.304

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/7/2013

Last Name

Moore

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Oakland Technical High School

Laney College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

William

HM ID

MOO17

Favorite Season

Summer

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

5/23/1933

Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Favorite Food

Italian Food

Short Description

Photojournalist William Moore (1933 - ) was the first full-time African American news cameraman in commercial television in the state of California.

Employment

Freelance Photographer

KTVU

Associated Press (AP)

Ohlone College

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William Moore's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William Moore describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William Moore describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William Moore talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William Moore describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William Moore talks about his brothers and his sister

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William Moore describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William Moore describes his childhood neighborhood in Oakland, California in the 1930s and 1940s

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - William Moore talks about the schools he attended in Oakland, California, childhood pastimes, and watching a Negro League baseball game

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - William Moore talks about experiencing racism at school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William Moore talks about famous athletes of his generation that came out of Oakland, California

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William Moore talks about being mentored by local photographer Chuck Willis

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William Moore talks about his high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William Moore talks about his mentor Chuck Willis's work and being an assistant to Willis

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William Moore talks being drafted in the United States Army and serving in Korea

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William Moore talks about learning the technical process of photography at Laney College on the G-I Bill

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - William Moore talks about his first jobs as a photographer after graduating from Laney College in Oakland, California

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - William Moore talks about meeting his wife at his mentor Chuck Willis's photography studio

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - William Moore describes how he got hired for his first job in television in 1968

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William Moore talks about the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and being hired at KTVU Channel 2 in Oakland, California

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William Moore talks about working with KTVU News in Oakland, California in the late 1960s and early 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William Moore talks about covering anti-Vietnam War protests in Berkeley, California, which motivated him to cover news stories

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William Moore talks about covering the Black Panthers and the Patty Hearst kidnapping for KTVU Channel 2 in Oakland, California

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William Moore describes the day Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated and covering the Dan White trial

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - William Moore discusses his personal connections to Jim Jones's followers and reporting on Jones's church

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - William Moore talks about covering the 1988 earthquake in Nicaragua for KTVU Channel 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - William Moore talks about filming news stories with his wife, HistoryMaker Belva Davis, while on vacation in Jamaica, Brazil, Italy, and Haiti

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - William Moore talks about covering an assignment in Kenya with his wife, HistoryMaker Belva Davis, and filming in South Africa

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - William Moore talks about covering the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, California, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William Moore talks about covering the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, California, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William Moore recalls the Oakland Hill fire of 1991

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William Moore talks about the impact of the 1994 O.J. Simpson trial on news coverage of court trials

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William Moore talks about the archive of news footage from his career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William Moore reflects upon covering multiple historic events and the impact of covering the assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - William Moore talks about his volunteer work and teaching at Ohlone College after retiring from broadcasting in 1996

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - William Moore talks about the technological developments in film since he started his career in 1968 and his decision to retire

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - William Moore talks about teaching at Ohlone College in Fremont, California

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - William Moore talks about the possibility of exhibiting his photographs or publishing a book

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - William Moore reflects on his career in the San Francisco Bay Area

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - William Moore talks about his professional legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - William Moore talks about his hopes and concerns for the African-American community

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William Moore talks about the advice he would give to young African Americans who wish to get involved in television or photography

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William Moore talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William Moore talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

8$5

DATitle
William Moore talks about filming news stories with his wife, HistoryMaker Belva Davis, while on vacation in Jamaica, Brazil, Italy, and Haiti
William Moore reflects upon covering multiple historic events and the impact of covering the assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone
Transcript
I know you did quite a bit of travel, from what I understand in our outline; that you went to Haiti, you shot in Italy, Brazil, Kenya, and in South Africa.$$Well, my wife and I, when we went on vacation we thought it would be nice to do some things on our own. And so we would, we would go on vacation, and I would just take a film camera along and shoot a little film. I think our first vacation we ever went to, we went to Jamaica. And I took a black and white camera and shot a little film. And we kind of did some experimental things--things we would just try out that we knew that her station would buy. And when Alex Haley was finishing "Roots," he was living in Jamaica. And he was always in contact with my wife when he was at sea somewhere. He'd call her or send her a card, and say if you ever come to Jamaica, look me up. So, we said we're going to Jamaica and we're going to look up Alex Haley. And he said come, and we went to Jamaica, and we took film camera. We met him up at his house in Negril and shot some film at his house. And that time he had, he had sold Roots to ABC [American Broadcasting Company]. And it was going to be the first mini-series that television ever ran. So, he was really kind of pumped about that. We did a great interview with him then and shot some film with then. And that, that turned out to be a great little film story. That--on that, we decided to try some others. The other most successful one we did, we were going on vacation to Brazil, to Carnival. And my wife said, well why don't we just shoot Carnival? And I had no idea how large Carnival was. I don't know if you've ever been to Carnival in Brazil. But I tell everyone, if you go to Carnival in Brazil, you don't have to go to Carnival anywhere else in the world. You can skip Trinidad, you can skip New Orleans [Louisiana], you can skip all the rest of those. When you went to Brazil at the year--and I forget which year it was, maybe '85 [1985] or '86 [1986]. There was no American television there. So, we knew we could sell some of our filming to the station that my wife worked at. They said they'd buy some. I think we sold a lot to Telemundo. And so, we knew we were going to make some money, and we got a couple of great stories. You know, we had--overall just covering Carnival was just a story within itself, the massiveness of this. But there was an engineer whose company went to Brazil to build a bridge. And he talked his company into leaving him there as a consultant. And he had been in consulting for this engineering company for about twelve years, still on the payroll. But he played in a Brazilian band, and he made a great story. And here was this, you know, guy sitting on a, you know, this great salary, living in Brazil. And then he hooked us up with a couple of good Samba schools. So, we got some good inside stuff on Samba schools. So, it turned out to be a good coverage of Carnival for two people, with not even a producer, just my wife and I. And we went up to Bya and did a little bit of Carnival up there. So, that was fun, too. Italy was another one. In the main symphony hall here in San Francisco [California], they were building an organ. And that organ was being built by someone in Italy. And we said "Let's go find him, wherever he is. (laughter). And if he's still working on this organ, we've got a great story." And he was way up in the northern part of Italy where they don't see tourists. And we found it, and found him and found him working on parts to it. And whenever I go to the symphony I always point out a part up there that I shot some film of when it was still in a crate in Italy, getting ready to be shipped back to here. So, those kinds of things made it fun. Haiti was a vacation that--by that time I worked with a reporter who liked to do travel stuff, kind of 'touristy' stuff. And we had a news director that said, "If you can go out and get an airline and a hotel and everybody to trade out, you can go." And so, they sent me and this reporter to Haiti. I'd never been to Haiti before we went on vacation there for a week. And then I came back home and went back to film. And at the time, Baby Doc [President Jean-Claude Duvalier] was the president. And it was kind of scary, because everyone referred to him, they didn't refer to him--they would refer to him as "my president for life." It was a picture of him on the ceiling or on the wall or anything. And you say, "Who is that?" And they would say, "That is my president for life." That is the only way they talked to him, they spoke of him. We did some travel stuff. We got in a little bit of trouble, but it wasn't anything to get us thrown out of the country. We got there and got in and out, and I found Haiti a very interesting country. I never had a chance to go back, but would like to.$$Okay, okay.$What would you consider the highlights of your time at KTVU?$$The highlights? I didn't--I tell people when they ask me about working in television. There were so many things that went on that turned out to be such huge stories in the twenty-eight years that I worked there. Had I spent my career in broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, I could only say that I had one story, when a volcano erupted. But, you know, when you go back and you think about the assassination of a mayor [George Moscone] and a supervisor [Harvey Milk]; you think about the movement and the start of the gay rights movement; the Black Panther Party; the anti-war... And all of these stories became major, major stories. They became major things that are just still talked about today--where you were--right in the middle of all that happening. So, there isn't any one particular thing. I think one of the moving things was, you know, being there when a mayor was shot and when a mayor was killed. And when I got to the City Hall [San Francisco, California], we knew the mayor's body was still inside of his office. So, one reporter went on to gather information, and said, "Stay here and get a shot of them bringing the mayor's body out." And I stayed and talked to a few other photographers for maybe ten minutes before the coroner's office came out with the mayor's body, and they rolled it in the elevator. And of course, none of us got in the elevator with them. We all ran down to the second floor-- mayor's office being on the... We ran down to the first floor, because the mayor's office was on the second floor. And all the photographers ran out the front door. And I ran to the basement. I don't know why, but I knew that they weren't going to bring the mayor out, right out, on the main street. They were going to take him out one of the side doors. And so, when I got to the basement, I was there by myself. And the door opened up, and just the two coroners come out with the mayor. And that's when it really kind of hit me. That's when it was emotional to me. At that particular time, my daughter went to the same school with his daughter. George Moscone was the kind of mayor that came over and said--pat you on the back--and say, "Hi, Bill, how are you doing. How's Dee Dee, how's Belva?" And so, it wasn't, he wasn't just the mayor that had gotten killed; he was somebody you consider a friend. It was kind of--really kind of got to you. But I still kind of worried about--I'm going to get this great inside shot of coming up and going down the hall, but I won't have the outside shot. But luckily, when I looked down the hallway where they were going to take him out, I could see one of our other photographers was there. So, I just remained there and did that long go-away shot. That kind of stuck with me for a long time. It's still there.