The suicide letter of a 79-year-old retired Methodist minister who set himself on fire in the parking lot of a Texas shopping mall in Grand Saline last month has finally been released. According to the Tyler Morning Telegraph, Charles Robert Moore committed the self immolation in protest of what he perceived was a racist society that had never come to terms with its past transgressions. I am attaching the scanned pictures of the note below.
“I will soon be 80 years old, and my heart is broken over this,” Morris wrote. “America, and Grand Saline … have never really repented for the atrocities of slavery and its aftermath. What my hometown needs to do is open its heart and its doors to black people as a sign of the rejection of past sins.”
“So at this late date, I have decided to join them by giving my body to be burned,” he wrote. “With love in my heart not only for them but also of the perpetrators of such horror … ”
Responding firefighters at the time claimed they’d never seen anything like it and everyone said it was a horrible scene to behold.
“He suddenly burst into flames, and he stood up and started screaming,” she said. “One of the guys ran and tried to put him out with his shirt, while my boyfriend ran to him with a fire extinguisher and finally put him out.”
And some took exception to Moore’s description of the town.
“It might have been that way in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s like a lot of places, but today we are a community of different ethnicities and racial makeups.”
While others agreed he was correct about the problem.
“It’s not as big as it used to be, but it is here. It is everywhere.”
The Tyler Morning Telegraph reports that “According to citydata.com, whites compose about 76 percent of the population, while Hispanics make up about 21 percent. The black population – at 20 people – numbers fewer than 1 percent.”
According to Dallas Morning News reports, Moore was never one for half measures. He protested the United Methodist Church’s discrimination against homosexuals in the 90s, picketed against the death penalty, preached against sexism, as well as serving in Indian and African slums.