Terry Watson - Program Presenter
My great-grandfather and great-uncle were the first two black Police Officers to have a full career in NYC. My ancestor's stories and experiences are what inspire me in telling the story of Moses P. Cobb and Samuel J. Battle. I am achieving this via a public speaking series called the Battle with Moses People. In addition to telling their stories, I have spent time interviewing law enforcement today. Begging the question, What battles do we still face today?
About the Battle With Moses People
Essentially we are taking a look back, to move forward...
A little bit about my great grandfather
Moses P. Cobb
Cobb was born in 1856 in Kinston, North Carolina — five years before the start of the Civil War and nine before the South was desegregated. As a young man, Cobb walked more than 500 miles along the underground railroad trail to Brooklyn in order to find a better life.
In 1892, Cobb became the second African-American to join the Brooklyn Police force and was assigned to the 153rd Precinct. Cobb worked through the ranks, guarding and transporting prisoners, finally becoming a patrolman in 1912. Five years later, Cobb retired from the force and died back in Kinston in 1926.
A little bit about my great uncle
Samuel J. Battle
Battle was the first African-American hired in the NYPD in 1911 after the five boroughs consolidated in 1898. Battle would go on to become the first sergeant of color in 1926, then a lieutenant in 1935. After 30 years on the force, Battle then became the first African-American parole commissioner in 1941, a position he held for 10 years.
In a 1936 interview, Battle said, “What we want is an equal opportunity to enjoy life and to make our own way. Make your own opportunities. When you see them, take hold of them and never give up.”