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A Texas Minister Set Himself On Fire And Died To ‘Inspire’ Justice

One Monday in June, 79-year-old Charles Moore, a retired United Methodist minister, drove to Grand Saline, Tex., his childhood home town some 70 miles east of Dallas. He pulled into a strip mall parking lot, knelt down on a small piece of foam and doused himself with gasoline.

Then, witnesses said, he set himself on fire.

Bystanders rushed to help, splashing him with bottled water and beating the blaze with shirts. Finally, someone found a fire extinguisher. Unconscious, he was flown to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where JFK died. Moore died that night, June 23.

Moore’s death seemed a mystery. He put a note on his car and left behind letters explaining his act, said a former colleague and relative by marriage, the Rev. Bill Renfro, but his writings were not released for nearly a week. His thoughts are now becoming public.

The Tyler Morning Telegraph obtained a copy of the suicide note from Grand Saline police. In it, Moore lamented past racism in Grand Saline and beyond. He called on the community to repent and said he was “giving my body to be burned, with love in my heart” for those who were lynched in his home town as well as for those who did the lynching, hoping to address lingering racism.

In his letters, obtained by The Washington Post, he called his death an act of protest. He said he felt that after a lifetime of fighting for social justice, he needed to do more.

“I would much prefer to go on living and enjoy my beloved wife and grandchildren and others,” he wrote, “but I have come to believe that only my self-immolation will get the attention of anybody and perhaps inspire some to higher service.” Full Story.

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