Family Values 2008 - The Moses Family
By Bill Zeeble, KERA Reporter
Dallas, TX –
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Fred and Mazzie Moses are dedicated Republicans and African American small business owners of Telecom Electric Supply in Plano. They are a minority among minorities, especially now. This summer, Fred became the first black Republican Party Chairman of GOP-dominated Collin County. He'll vote for the McCain-Palin ticket. His wife won't disclose her preference because she says secret ballots are that way for a reason. But she also calls herself a Republican.
23 years ago, Fred and his wife, Mazzie Moses, launched Telecom Electric Supply of Plano. TES has grown from a tiny operation to a multi-million dollar wholesaler of items from incandescent and fluorescent bulbs to power strips and dry cell batteries. National customers include JC Penney and American Airlines. From the start, company president Fred Moses says his minority business was driven as much, if not more, by religious values than profit.
Fred Moses: We're a Christian company. That's who we are. You need to know that. That's who we are. People come through the door, that's who we are, we're a Christian company.
Moses says the company motto is borrowed from the bible - go the extra mile.
Fred Moses: I think we're a Christian country and shouldn't apologize when we talk about our Christian faith. We're a Judao-Christian country. We shouldn't be apologizing and making excuses and letting people suppress our abilities.
So everyday Fred and his employees pray in the Plano office. The company has a visiting chaplain for weekly lunch-time bible study. On this day, though, his car breaks down. So Fred, a minister at his church, Shiloh Baptist, takes over.
Prayer and faith are the glue in the Moses family and business. For Fred and Mazzie, the Republican stresses both, reflecting their values.
Mazzie Moses: There are beliefs the Republican party has that I agree with. God is first in our lives, family second, then jobs, the marriage issue.
That marriage issue means a marriage is between a man and a woman. While Barack Obama says that's what he and Democrats believe, Fred Moses isn't so sure.
Fred Moses: My values don't line up with theirs when you talk about gay rights in terms of marriage. I'm for marriage between a man and woman. I think that's real important. In terms of God, I think God plays a part in everything. They say God is OK as long as you don't talk about it. They're OK with you being a Christian, as long as you keep your faith to yourself. Well, I say our faith is more than that.
Mazzie says they have become successful thanks to faith and prayer. And they have come a long way. Both were from poor families in South Carolina. Fred says he became a Republican before he could even vote while in high school in Connecticut.
Fred Moses: They said if you were black and involved in politics, you had to be in the Democratic Party. I didn't buy that. I didn't buy it. I wanted to. I had been involved in community groups from early high school days. It's about who will work with you and what people offer. I didn't find the Democratic Party in that area. They weren't open to really providing good support to the community that I was in, which was a housing project in the black community. They would give you lip service but they weren't really effective.
Moses says he was open to anyone willing to work on community issues, and in this case, a proposed factory expansion so close to his housing complex it threatened tenant safety and privacy.
Fred Moses: And I found young Republicans. That was their interest. Trying to serve the community and doing good. Even in the black community, these young guys, they were open to doing that. Young Republicans.
Fred and Mazzie have successfully bucked trends their whole lives. Disciplined for acting up in ninth grade, Fred was warned by his mother school officials didn't want him to graduate. So he worked hard to prove them wrong, and did. Mazzie failed a job test out of college but tried again, and again, then finally got hired for the job she held for 12 years. She was the first in her family to attend college, although her father couldn't read. The Moses children graduated college and now have careers and kids of their own. As parents of an award-winning teacher, Fred and Mazzie like the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind for improving academic standards. They know they're out of step with most African Americans because they both like Republican John McCain, a well-known fighter. Still, they acknowledge Democrat Barack Obama, whose campaign appearances have drawn giant crowds for months.
Fred Moses: It says a lot about America and I think it says a lot about our country and where we've come from and how we have matured as a country. To have an African American leader of the party, it's appealing. But the other side is we really need to ask questions. What does he stand for? Sometimes we're so emotionally charged that we don't ask questions. We need to ask questions.
Moses asks what policies does Obama propose? He also fears more and higher taxes, including the return of the inheritance tax. He worries about Obama's limited international experience compared to John McCain's. He and his wife both like Sarah Palin because of her religious values. In a year when a black man could become president and 80 percent of African Americans say they'll vote for Obama, Fred and Mazzie Moses know they're in the minority, including at their church.
Over lunch at a restaurant the other day, Curtis Ford talks about politics and his long-time friend Fred Moses, who sits with him on their church deacon board. In the work world, Ford's an engineer for a local manufacturer. He's known and admired the Moses family for at least 15 years. In fact, he worked a year at their company and is wearing his old, blue Telecom Electric Supply shirt. But Curtis Ford says he's no Republican.
Curtis Ford, engineer: I respect Fred immensely for his hard work and hard efforts. Just agree to disagree on some issues, politics and foreign policy.
Ford's a cancer survivor. Laid off by a different employer when he was diagnosed, he received treatment thanks to his wife's health insurance.
Ford: There's 40 plus million Americans who don't have that option. And most of those 46 million are working. But they just don't have health insurance. I think health care shouldn't be a privilege but a right. That's a thing the Republican Party pretty much ignores.
Ford's an Obama voter and volunteer for other reasons as well. He says a vote for McCain and Palin would continue the same failed policies.
Ford: Can't afford another four years of the same. There's a saying in quality circles that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I see a McCain administration as just an extension of the Bush administration. Tax cuts, when we already have trillions in deficits, and giving these corporations no incentives to invest in America but still giving them tax cuts, while ignoring issues like no health care or overexpansion in war, isn't the way to go.
Ford disagrees with Fred Moses on other political issues. But they remain good and long-standing friends. Their differences are civil, which, says Moses, is the way to be. After all, peaceful civil rights protests were the trademark for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whom, Moses says, was a Republican. Moses adds that if more blacks knew that and realized their religious values lined up with the Republican party, more African Americans would join the GOP.