Moses (Mr. Mose) LeRoy, Black civil rights leader, was born about 1900 in Louisiana and accompanied his widowed mother to Houston, Texas, in 1914. Reportedly six months too young for the draft in World War I, he found work digging ditches. He went to work for the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1920 and slowly worked his way up to become a gang boss or supervisor of the loading of railroad cars. He and his wife Erma (DeLoney) had one child. In the early 1930s LeRoy joined the Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, which granted African Americans auxiliary memberships. As a union leader he crusaded for more and better jobs for Blacks and fought both railroad management and the union over work rules. In the 1950s he refused to testify about his knowledge of Kurt Wittenberg and his wife, who were threatened with deportation for their Communist affiliations. As president of Local 1534 of the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks in the 1960s, LeRoy successfully sued the union before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over discriminatory work practices.
He fought for civil rights and equality in Houston and worked to abolish the poll tax. He was the plaintiff in the original 1973 lawsuit against the city that led to the single-member-district plan and opened the Houston City Council to minorities. He worked for the right of Blacks to drive city buses, for naming a Houston street in honor of Martin Luther King, and against segregation in schools, colleges, and local government. In the 1970s LeRoy served as chairman of the board of the Model Neighborhood Resident Commission, an affiliate of the federal Model Cities Program. He served as vice president of the Texas Council of Voters, a charter member and director of the Harris County Council of Organizations, and executive board member and president in 1960 of the Houston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He worked with the Texas State Democratic Coalition, Jobs for Progress, the YMCA, the Political Association of Spanish-Speaking Organizations, and other organizations, and served as a local bank director. A city park and day-care center were named in his honor. In 1966 LeRoy participated in the farm workers' march (seeSTARR COUNTY STRIKE) at Rio Grande City. He retired in 1967, after forty years with the railroad. In 1985 he was a precinct chairman in southeast Houston. At the time of his death, on February 10, 1990, he was working in the Harris County voter-registration office.
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Houston Metropolitan Research Center Files, Houston Public Library. Julius Jacobson, The Negro and the American Labor Movement (Garden City, New York: Anchor, 1968).
Activism and Social Reform
Politics and Government
Civic and Community Leaders
Texas Post World War II
World War II
Upper Gulf Coast
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Diana J. Kleiner,
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 28, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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