My name is Leroy Franklin Moore Jr. I was born in New York in 1967 and was born with a physical disability (cerebral palsy). Being both Black and disabled, I’ve always had questions about race and disability.
I grew up in an activist family and became active in issues that faced my Black and disabled communities. At an early age I realized that both of my communities, Black and disabled, did not recognize each other and because of this fact I continued to search for some kind of balance with my two identities.
In school I found out that very few professors or students knew about Black disabled people in history -- from slavery, to the music industry, to activism. Outside of the educational system and my communities, I started to educate myself on the rich history of Black disabled people.
Because my father was into Black music, I started my research on Black disabled people in music and found out that most of the early blues artists were Black and blind or had other types of disabilities that forced them to make a living from singing on street corners all over the South and North: artists like Cripple Clarence Lofton who had polio but used to dance and was known as one of the creators of boogie-woogie piano.
A lot of these Black disabled musicians didn’t get their dues and were discriminated against. The story of Cortelia Clark, who was a blind blues singer, singing on the streets of Nashville, is one of many true stories of Black blind/disabled artists in the early stages of the development of the music industry. Although Clark won a Grammy for his 1967 song, the appropriately titled "Blues in the Streets," he couldn’t attend the ceremony because he couldn’t afford to buy a ticket. The following day he was back on the streets trying to earn money to pay rent.