BERKELEY, Calif. — Jim Moore wanted with all his heart to make it to his 100th birthday. Friends and family brought him cards and flowers Nov. 8 at Berkeley’s Alta Bates Hospital to help him celebrate his centennial birthday. He died two weeks later, on Nov. 22.

Born into a poor working-class family in Batesville, Ind., James L. Moore — originally Theodore Luesse — participated in all the great movements of the 20th century, from antiwar and anti-occupation struggles through union organizing, anti-eviction actions, combating the Ku Klux Klan and lynchings, and winning Social Security and unemployment insurance. He joined the Communist Party USA in 1930, continuing to be an active member to the end of his life.

The year Moore joined the CP also marked the start of his long love of the communist press, from the Daily Worker to the People’s Weekly World. Because the Daily Worker had a story about a Detroit auto firm’s plans to bring replacement workers to a struck plant, Moore could convince the potential scabs not to go. “I thought that was pretty nice,” he later wrote. “The newspaper was what made it possible for me to know about it.”

For the rest of his life, he emphasized the paper in all his work, using its stories in organizing, circulating hundreds of copies a week, making fliers out of articles on key topics, and contributing generously to its support.

While still a pupil at a Catholic elementary school, Moore protested the church’s support for the landing of U.S. Marines in Honduras. At age 14, he organized his first strike — to demand equal pay for his age-mates whose wages were lower than those of their 16-year-old counterparts at Western Union.

During his years as a machinist, autoworker and organizer, Moore’s outspoken activism for the rights of workers on the job and his championing of the unemployed constantly challenged both bosses and government officials. He continued his activism during a jail term of nearly two years, May 1931 to March 1933. While he was in jail, Moore ran for governor of Indiana on the CP ticket.

During those years Moore organized “flying squadrons” that went to welfare and unemployment offices, brought together demonstrations of the unemployed, and put belongings back in the homes of people who were evicted. He helped organize popular pressure that won an Indiana state law barring eviction of the unemployed for non-payment of rent.

In later years Moore participated in the great civil rights and anti-Vietnam-War upsurges of the 1960s. He was active in the struggle for affordable housing, the American-Soviet Friendship movement, and senior struggles on health care and other issues.

Until nearly the end of his life Moore brought the People’s Weekly World to local unemployment and welfare offices, and to most major Bay Area demonstrations. He received special tributes at the 2003 and 2004 Northern California PWW banquets.

“I all the time want to live for a purpose,” he said in “How I Got Out of Jail and Ran for Governor of Indiana,” a 1995 book written with Claire Burch. “Why are you here? That’s the theme. Are you here to take up space or to do something good?”

Moore’s wife, Agnes, died in 1976. He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Stanley and Linda Moore, and his grandson, Edward T. Moore.

A memorial celebration of Jim Moore’s life will be held Saturday, Jan. 15 at 3 p.m. at the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. For information and directions, call (510) 251-1050.

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