Moore

Tabitha Moore of the Rutland Area NAACP gives a speech in June in Rutland’s Main Street Park during the Black Lives Matter protest.

WALLINGFORD — The leader of the Rutland County chapter of NAACP is leaving her home following months of racially motivated harassment targeting her and her young family members.

Tabitha Moore, director of the Rutland Area chapter of NAACP, said Friday she’s already found a buyer for her home, but doesn’t know yet where she and her family will move.

“It’s been heating up for a while, since June,” she said. “A number of nonspecific threats and different incidents have been growing.”

Among the incidents was the vandalism of a wooden pallet Moore had decorated for Wallingford Day, which sees town residents decorate wooden shipping pallets and display them in their yards. Moore’s, which a friend displayed on their lawn, bore Black Lives Matter imagery and had white paint thrown on it near the end of August.

“The tipping point for me, though, was watching what our community did when my daughter was successful. She’s been working for a while trying to figure out what to say to the School Board, and she finally did,” said Moore, referring to her daughter, Reese Eldert-Moore, then a student at Mill River Union High School, in June convincing the School Board to allow the BLM flag to be flown at Mill River Union High School.

“The School Board saw reason with her presentation and that of other students, but watching what grown adults do to children was the tipping point for me, and I started paying more attention to how my family was being affected by the work we’re trying to do, and how they’re still being affected even right now,” said Moore.

Also, the School Board decided to allow the Pride Flag to be flown in support of LGBTQ students, but following backlash and a petition to put the flag issue to a vote despite that power being vested in the board, it decided to hold off from raising the flags until a flag policy could be further developed.

Moore said her daughter had been targeted by people on Facebook, seemingly over things her mother has said publicly. “Why would you target a kid? It makes no sense except that you’re really uncomfortable with the progress we’re trying to make and you’re not very savvy about how to have this conversation with adults,” said Moore.

She said she’s suspended her campaign for high bailiff, a countywide seat, not because she plans to leave the county, but because campaigning, finding a new home and seeing to her family’s needs don’t allow for it.

“I love Wallingford, and I love the Rutland area in a lot of ways, but I don’t have to kill myself to make it a better place especially when people are just being awful for no reason,” she said.

Moore grew up in Wallingford, left in 2006, came back to Vermont in 2009 and lived in Clarendon briefly before buying her home in Wallingford. She said the town is full of good people who support her, hence the reason she’s stayed as long as she has, but it’s become too much.

Moore isn’t the only Black person in a public position to face this issue. Her story is similar to that of Kiah Morris, who in 2018 ended her re-election campaign to the Vermont House of Representatives owing to racial harassment. Morris represented Bennington.

Morris will host two poetry readings to raise money and assist in Moore’s relocation.

The performances will be held at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday at Democracy Creative in Burlington. Also, there are tickets for a livestream of the events that can be found at kiahmorris.com/fortabitha.

“The hope is that art can cross boundaries, upset expectations and bring both joy and reckoning,” Morris stated in an email. “This performance is a manifestation of my love for Tabitha and, I hope, of the wider community’s love and support as well.”

Moore said she and Morris are both public figures, but everyday Black and brown people face similar struggles.

“The number of people that leave because they can’t handle the racism, because of the way that racism is so insidious here and the way people respond when you say hey, that was racist. it’s just too much,” Moore said. “The level of offense people take when you point out an act is racist is just — it’s almost too draining to have to deal with their reaction.”

She said Vermont isn’t mostly white by happenstance, the eugenics program and escaped slave laws from generations past have played their part. “If we are to end systemic racism, we must remain committed, we must remain in it,” she said. ”So I’m just repositioning myself, I’m not leaving. I’m going to continue to do the work in Rutland County and across the state. If anything, this just strengthens my resolve and lets me know we’re doing good work.”

keith.whitcomb

@rutlandherald.com

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(12) comments

Herald1

Pathetic white hicks. Afraid of anything that doesnt look like them

wrightapprco

We can do so much better Rutland. I'm sorry Ms. Moore experienced this treatment.

Mudslide53

A minority of haters is going to win again? I am furious

Kongo Fiddler

There has always been a racist element in Vermont and Rutland County. From segregation to the KKK to slavery to this. Selling Confederate flags at state fairs. What does one expect? The message is clear: you don’t want colored folk here.

Well guess what? You are about to be exposed in the most grandiose fashion. Keep your eyes open folks, it’s coming.

Djc1943

I used to think racists here were just ignorant rednecks. Now I see a Trump flag on homes of people I know are educated and it scares me to death. Our country is becoming more racist

alpha1six

We have white collar, blue collar and red necks. We understand the white and blue collar designation refers to careers choices. Red neck simply refers to individua's who work out doors and are susceptible to sun burnt necks. It does not indicate education, race, or attitudes. Only self important, "holier than thou" minds believe that all red necks are racist or uneducated. I have known individuals of all races and economic levels who have been racist or followed a racist agenda for many reasons.

Trump supporters are no more racist than Biden supporters. They simply do not buy the Neville Chamberlain approach to governance that the democrat party seems to have adopted. You do not negotiate with individuals who throw fire bombs at police, burn police cars, torch public and private property and loot businesses. You arrest them and treat them like the terrorists they are. Peaceful demonstrations=good, riots=bad.

I have no use for Trump as a person but I cannot vote for a party that sees violent demonstrations, arson and looting and describes the scene as peaceful demonstrations.

alpha1six

I am sorry that Ms. Moore and her daughter feel that their safety is being compromised and that they must sell their home in Wallingford. Unfortunately I don't think that there is any place on this earth where you can expect to be free of ignorant and insecure people. Although I don't agree with the BLM movement which I believe has been taken over by some very dangerous people with an agenda that goes way beyond their name but this is America and everyone has a right to their beliefs and the right to demonstrate as long as they do not interfere with the rights of others.

As for the vandalism of the pallet, it may have been motivated by the message but then it may just been an example of the infantile mentality of those folks who think it's okay to vandalize a cemetery, a nativity scene, or someone's political lawn. display.

As for the confederate battle flag, I suspect that many of the folks who display them either on their vehicle, their house or their body have no idea of it's origin. They see it simply as a sign of defiance against society like teenagers who dye their hair some crazy color because they know it will drive their parents or some other adult nuts. The "Tell me I can't and I will." crowd.

alpha1six

"Ignorant and insecure people" is in reference to folks who would harass others. It was NOT a reference to the Moore's.

pappneil

Why can't she or the article state the spelled out name of the NAACP, And not just it's initials? Are they afraid? Ashamed?

bj

Unfortunately many black people see anything that is said around them that they do not like is racist. Perhaps if Mrs. Moore stopped acting like a bull in a china shop and started actually talking WITH people instead of screaming at them and making unreasonable demands things would be a lot better for everyone. I have lived in various parts of Vermont my entire life and have known and worked with many great black people over the years. But now, I am afraid to ever speak with a black person for fear of being targeted as a racist. This is Moore’s doing and I blame her. Start being human. Start treating others the way you want to be treated and start demanding more from yourself instead of demanding that everyone else do it for you.

pappneil

Well said. Well Said!!! bj. Couldn't have said it better my self.

BRmomma

Except it’s not true, the neighbors that Ms. Moore has conflict with is another biracial family. It has absolutely nothing to do with race or skin color, but Ms. Moore is generating financial gain and pity with her lies, and dragging a very peaceful, beautiful town thru the mud in the process, it’s disgraceful.

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