By Barney Blakeney
Charleston was shaken Tuesday upon learning of the death of community activist Muhiyidin d’Baha, also known as Moya Moye. He was 32. d’Baha was the coordinator of Charleston’s Black Lives Matter chapter and fearlessly and unrelentingly staged petitions for social justice and equality of every front utilizing all available venues including boardrooms and street protests.
Truly a champion for the people, according to family sources d’Baha was cut down February 5 by what is believed to have been random gun violence while on an enlightening visit to New Orleans, La. d’Baha’s sister Kim Duncan said d’Baha left Charleston in December for New Orleans just to get away for a while, to see other places and learn about other communities.
The third oldest of eight children born into a family that valued education – both his parents are college educated, Duncan said her brother was smart having earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina and a Master’s Degree from Winthrop University. d’Baha was also dedicated, she said. The children all were born in New York, N.Y. and lived in a predominantly white community which made d’Baha acutely aware of discrimination and injustice. His hatred for such things and his desire to fight them was a part of d’Baha, she said.
Colleagues in the struggle flooded social media with expressions of loss, regret and sympathy. One friend, Brandon Fish capsulized some of those expressions. “Moya Moye, I am eternally grateful to you and for you…for your spirit that refused to accept injustice, your courage that showed the world that fear in the face of wrong was not an option, and your strength that kept you on the battlefield, even when no one else was there. I will forever miss you, my brother. I, for one, know just how much you enriched my life. Soldiers together…forever.”
Damon Fordham said, “He conversed often with myself and my nephew Kwadjo Campbell for advice and for historical information that would give him guidance, and he referred to both of us as ‘big brothers’. To those who complained of the apathy of the millennial generation, he was proof of the error of that thinking.
“He was heavily involved in the movements here surrounding the Walter Scott and Mother Emanuel shootings, and my strongest memory of him was on the night of the first anniversary of the Mother Emanuel murders. A bunch of us gathered in nearby Marion Square park and began to beat drums and chant. Some passerby gathered and misunderstanding what this was about, began to dance. he got up and said, “Stop! This is not about singing and dancing. This is in memory of our brothers and sisters whose lives were taken at this spot last year! We drum because that was how our ancestors communicated in the days of slave rebellions, and we do this to honor them.” I could only smile in admiration. Much respect.”
Jessa Houfek wrote, ”The light of Charleston (and the world) burns less brightly today after the news that our friend, brother, notable activist, and community pillar Muhiyyidin D’baha was shot and killed. I won’t do the tacky jam people do when a person of substance passes and pretend we were best friends—we weren’t, just friends and fellow activists—but I’ve known him since my earliest days in Charleston, and marched beside him countless times, including the first time my son marched with Black Lives Matter, Muhiyidin encouraging him to use his voice at every step. Y’all will remember him for his deliciously notorious confederate flag “leap and snatch” which was his pinnacle essence: a rebel with beautiful bravado, willing to literally leap against hate. But Moya, he had a mighty energy, he was a champion, a firecracker, intelligent, purposeful, poetic, proud and passionate; a true force. Every conversation I had with him was full of depth and inspiration, and his colorful nature always left me smiling and humbled. The loss of Moya is a tremendous blow to the community backbone of Charleston, and we will have major work to do in his honor. Rest In Power, brother.”
Duncan said, “We appreciate all the love. And knowing how many people’s lives he touched gives us comfort.”
Moye’s niece Camille Weaver added, “Muhiyyidin D’baha, was shot and killed in New Orleans. I don’t have more details than that, but it appears to be a random act of violence. I won’t say more about his death, but I will tell you that he lived to serve his community. He had so much life and energy and intellectual curiosity and capacity and love and positive energy. The last thing he said to me was that he was doing community work out of town and that he was learning so that he could come back to Charleston and help empower the people. He was loved by all of his friends and respected by all those who want to see social and racial justice in Charleston. We all have lost so much, so very much, whether you know it or not. This world was a better place because he walked around in it (barefoot, so he could feel the vibrations of the Earth of course). Please respect the family during this time as more information comes out. I am more sad than I can express in words.”
The family has started a GoFundMe campaign to bring d’Baha home to Charleston.