As a school board member in Kanawha County, W.Va., in the early 1970s, Alice Moore ignited what might be considered the opening battle of America’s culture war in education.
Mrs. Moore challenged the board’s choice of textbooks and supplementary materials, touching off a yearlong protest that riveted the nation in 1974. Among other things, it alerted parents that the educational establishment was not only anti-Christian but aggressively so. The uprising presaged today’s Tea Party revolt against overbearing government.
Thousands took to the streets, miners went on strike, and several unoccupied schools were bombed. One person was critically hurt when shot by a man who opposed the book protesters. A pastor who led the protests, Marvin Horan, was convicted on one count of conspiracy and spent three years in prison, denying he had anything to do with violence. The Ku Klux Klan crashed the party, and book protesters spent much effort distancing themselves.
On Oct. 7, Mrs. Moore received the Dr. Robert Dreyfus Courageous Christian Leadership Award from South Carolina-based Frontline Ministries and the Exodus Mandate Project, which encourages parents to home-school their children or put them in Christian schools. Dr. Dreyfus is a longtime home-schooling proponent.
“We see this as one of the first shots in the culture war, after Phyllis Schlafly’s defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment,” said E. Ray Moore, president of both groups. “What’s happening today had its beginnings in the great textbook war of Kanawha County. It’s time that Alice Moore was recognized for her courage.”
The upshot of the protests, which drew network coverage after the miners’ strike began, was that eight books were dropped and 65 percent to 80 percent of elementary school parents opted out of using the approved texts. Publishers discontinued some of the books as news of their content spread across the country.
Alice Moore’s award is a reminder not only of her courage but that of thousands who have stood between children and the “blob” that would turn them into Earth worshippers who hate America, capitalism and Christianity.