Published on February 15, 2016
Ronnie Moore currently serves as the Director for Cornerstone Builders, a program that helps formerly incarcerated men and women re-enter society through service and provides support for families and children of the incarcerated. Although Cornerstone Builders began only seven years ago, Moore has been a renowned civil rights leader in the community for over 50 years. During the 1960s, he was a field director for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which has been called “one of the most important civil rights organizations in the history of the United States.” He worked closely with CORE’s national director, James L. Farmer Jr., to register voters and protest public segregation throughout the South. Over the course of his civil rights advocacy, Moore was arrested 15 times, served six months in jail, and spent 57 days in solitary confinement. Despite all of the hardship that he and his fellow activists endured, Moore looks back upon that time in his life as his best years. “We didn’t know it would be a part of history,” he said. “We were caught up in something that was greater than ourselves.”
Today, Moore is fighting a new battle for a new generation. Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate per capita in the world, and Moore is seeking to heal the damage that widespread incarceration has inflicted on our community. He feels that this cause is of equal importance to those that he fought for in the 1960s, saying “mass incarceration is the final chapter in the struggle from slavery to this day.” Incarceration disproportionately affects minority populations, with one out of every three black men going to jail in their lifetime, but it also affects other vulnerable groups of people. Moore explained that 30 percent of people in prison today have mental handicaps, with an approximate additional 35 percent suffering from substance abuse.
Every year through its Annual Symposium for Systematic Change, Cornerstone Builders seeks to address widespread incarceration by bringing together local leaders for discussion from a wide array of industries. From day to day, Cornerstone provides immediate help to re-entering citizens including shelter, employment, and a support network. Additionally, Cornerstone has a mentoring program for children of the incarcerated and helps coordinate free monthly bus trips to Louisiana detention centers for families of the incarcerated. Through this multi-faceted approach, Moore and Cornerstone are changing the way people view the criminal justice system and helping the formerly incarcerated to become productive, contributing citizens. Despite his already long list of incredible accomplishments, Ronnie Moore is still on a journey of service, touching lives spanning across generations.