TACOMA, Wash. — Former Tacoma Mayor Harold G. Moss passed away at his home with family on the evening of Sept. 21, 2020 following longstanding health conditions unrelated to COVID-19.
Throughout his lifetime, Mayor Moss was committed to fighting for dreams that mattered. Today, he leaves an extraordinary legacy that matches the depth and breadth of his love for Tacoma and his many family members, friends, mentees and professional associates. Today’s Tacoma offers community members greater justice, connection and prosperity thanks to his many contributions.
Mayor Moss became the first African American member of the Tacoma City Council when he was appointed to the Tacoma City Council on October 6, 1970. He was subsequently elected three times – in 1971, 1987 and 1991 – serving more than a decade as a Tacoma City Council Member. He became the first African American Mayor in Tacoma’s history on January 25, 1994, when he was appointed to the position.
“There are no words that adequately capture and recognize what Mayor Moss has done in service of our city and our community. In his lifetime, he shouldered many responsibilities. He also provided mentorship and support to developing leaders across the region, inspiring a living legacy of people following his footsteps today in public service, social justice activism, civic engagement, volunteering, and building a more connected Tacoma,” said Mayor Victoria Woodards. “I would not be the mayor I am today without his pioneering leadership or the many lessons he shared, affectionately known as Mossisms.”
“Mayor Moss will be remembered as an architect of the civil rights movement in the Pacific Northwest. In this current time of civil unrest and heightened calls for social justice, we as a community can begin to understand both the monumental weight and the deep necessity of Mayor Moss’s decades of dedicated work,” said Deputy Mayor Keith Blocker. “He spent his life as a tireless advocate of fair and equal representation for those underserved in education, employment, housing and basic civil rights. His work has resulted in meaningful change and greater equity for Black and Brown community members today.”
In his many years of tenure with the City of Tacoma, he served in a broad range of leadership roles, including the Association of Washington Cities Executive Board; the Law Enforcement Support Agency Board; the National League of Cities; the Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners; the Public Safety Committee; the Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health; the SR509 Executive Committee; the Puyallup Indian Settlement Implementation Assistance Committee; the Tacoma-Pierce County Commission on Children, Youth, and their Families; and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Mayor Moss is also credited with a key role in crafting the City of Tacoma’s Human Rights Commission Ordinance.
Mayor Moss also made history by being the first African American member and chair of the Pierce County Council.
On his 90th birthday, Mayor Woodards and the Tacoma City Council named the 34th Street Bridge (spanning SR7 between East B Street and East D Street) after Tacoma’s 34th mayor. The Harold G. Moss Bridge honors the lasting impacts he made on Tacoma during his lifetime. Procuring state funding for the lighting of this bridge was one of his many accomplishments while serving as Tacoma’s mayor.
“Even in his passing, the lights on the bridge continue to stand as a shining monument to the ways that Tacoma is brighter today due to the leadership and countless contributions of Mayor Harold G. Moss – a man I have been proud to call my father,” said Mayor Woodards. “I hope that all who see the glow of those lights will be inspired by his deep love for Tacoma and his life of service, and I hope future generations will be reminded to continue the work of bridging our differences so that the Tacoma of tomorrow is stronger and brighter for all.”
In addition to his elected leadership roles, Mayor Moss will also be remembered for many other examples of community involvement, such as his work helping to found the Tacoma Urban League and securing key funding for its Urban Services Center. He was also a founding member of the Black Collective, and his life of dedication to civic engagement through volunteer service has long reflected the key mission of that organization.