If you grew up in west Charlotte you knew Ebony Moore. We called her Miss Ebony. She was a towering presence, vivacious, a never-ending bag of energy. When she walked into a room she owned it. Those qualities are what she desired to pass on to the hundreds of boys and girls who went through Miss Ebony’s School of Etiquette, Miss Ebony’s Angels modeling troupe or her summer Diva Day Camp.
Shanae Starnes first met Ebony at Winston Salem State University where both were students. She knows firsthand the impact of her training. Both of her daughters went through Miss Ebony’s curriculum.
“These girls gained confidence, social skills, collaborative skills, she constantly tried to develop them if their head was hanging down low while they were walking...she would say hold your head up...look for the balloon in the corner of the room.”
I remember the same guidance from Miss Ebony. She was my coach for the “Miss West Charlotte” pageant my senior year of high school. She had won the crown 20 years prior. With Miss Ebony’s help I won. That night she met up with my family to personally congratulate me. During West Charlotte’s homecoming parade she volunteered for me to use her car as my escort. Four years later when I graduated from college she came to my celebration. And it wasn't just me. Miss Ebony was this giving with countless others.
DiAndra Savage was one of them.
“The first time I met Ms. Ebony I was 16. I kind of grew up knowing her. She let me have my Sweet 16 birthday party at her first dance studio, and when I got older and came home from school, I’m like, yes I would love to work with your etiquette camp for girls. I’m like I didn't have that growing up.”
Jarvaris Massey first met Miss Ebony when he was eight years-old going to the Johnston YMCA. She was the program director there at the time.
Years later Massey ran into her again. Miss Ebony was now leading up a new summer program for kids at St. Paul Baptist Church. And he needed a job.
“I approached her for a job opportunity. Not only did she grant me a job opportunity, but I was one of the lead camp counselors in charge of the camp.”
Ebony’s community-oriented spirit came from her grandmother Hattie B. Anthony. Anthony was considered a luminary in her University Park neighborhood. She provided assistance to the elderly, helped the unemployed find odd jobs and supported those struggling with substance abuse.
In a way Ebony was following in her footsteps. Through the decades Miss Ebony had made her mark in her hometown, from fashion shows, expos, to community events. She wanted to take her brand to the next level. Sharon Howard, a friend and former co-worker, says she would often talk to Ebony about spreading her wings.
“Ebony had gotten too big for Charlotte. She wanted more, she was always ambitious, always thinking about how she could grow, how she could bring people along with her, how she could mentor girls and even boys.”
In 2018, Miss Ebony moved to New York City to live and work in Harlem. She was working as a manager for a National Training Network for schools in the city. She called it her dream job.
In late April, Ebony returned to Charlotte for a weekend celebration of her only child and son’s 25th birthday. Late Saturday night she fell ill. That Sunday morning she died. The cause of her death has not been announced.
I was in disbelief. She was only 46. How could someone so full of life die so suddenly? I thought back to first meeting her at the Stratford Richardson YMCA more than a decade ago. Whenever I saw her I had a nervous energy. I knew she wanted to hear good news from me. She wanted to know how I was progressing. I didn't want to disappoint her. Not out of fear, but love and respect.
Miss Ebony had a way of bringing people together. Her memorial service was a homecoming for the lives of the countless people she touched.