ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A professor’s words in the classroom can change a student’s life in seconds. For Professor of English at Abilene Christian University, Dr. Steven Moore, he’s impacting his students in the class and hundreds of others on the chapel stage by sharing his testimony of racial discrimination in order to create a more unified campus and country.

Praise Fridays at Moody Coliseum are the highlight of many ACU students’ weeks, from walking in with your peers to listening to the latest music in Christian music over the loudspeakers. However, the real fun begins with a familiar smile takes center stage with the ACU acapella group leading worship that day.

As Moore takes center stage, the crowd’s energy begins to rise and cheers come from the top rows of students throughout the coliseum. Then, he steps forward and makes two distinct hand motions. Both hands go in the air, like a referee calling a touchdown, moving them front to back, then shortly after, crossing them in front of his body.

The crowd erupts in cheers, whistles and screams.

One student said, “the whole stadium erupts because we know something big is going to happen.”

Moore frequently helps lead worship on Praise Fridays at ACU and as he takes his microphone and begins to sing the first line, the entirety of the crowd belts along with him, ‘You’ve got to take the Lord with you.’

“Hundreds of students, faculty and alumni gathering together for a half hour on a Friday, singing in unison. It’s a thing of beauty,” Moore said. “I love how it opens doors… This is a medium that reaches so many people. Music is so powerful.”

But as the lyrics say, the ‘highways and byways’ for Dr. Steven Moore were not always a straight, easy ride like driving Interstate 20 to Dallas-Ft. Worth.

“There were times when I was targeted for the color of my skin,” Moore explained.

Growing up, Moore said he faced racial discrimination in all facets of his life, from casually driving his vehicle to searching for a job, even after earning his master’s degree in English at the University of Nebraska.

“They [employers] would have my resumé and my credentials,” Moore said. “I would show up and they would meet me. They would meet Steven Moore and had no idea I was black. Then things would change.”

However, 23 years ago, Dr. Steven Moore found a home at Abilene Christian University. He is the first African American to hold the title of department chair and finds himself as a very successful, likeable professor in the English department.

Students rave about Dr. Moore’s ability to connect with them on a personal level, treating them as friends and family. With that trust in mind, he shared that he wants his class to be comfortable talking about today’s pressing issues, including racism in the country, by reading literature dating back to slavery all the way up to present day.

“I try to get them to think about African American text, the issue about slavery in this country, the civil rights movement, and what race relations are like now,” Moore said.

Moore shared he uses his knowledge and personal experiences to try and put his students in the shoes of an African American 100 years ago until now, but also holds out for open discussions and brings new world views into the classroom. Dr. Moore said he hopes the open conversations can help build a bridge from the wrongdoings of the past and create more understanding from both sides.

“At the end of the day, I want them to realize they can do something about the problems in our world,” Moore said. “When you think about the problems of race, I tell them over and over again that they have the key, they hold the key to changing the world.”

But when those Friday chapels roll around, he shared he uses another God-given gift to his advantage: his love of music and singing to help students find their own voices.

Moore takes inspiration from the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. He also takes the opportunity he has in the spotlight of Moody Coliseum to not better himself, but to further the kingdom of God, by singing as part of his ministry.

One student told KTAB/KRBC, “when Dr. Moore is up there, you can tell it’s not for him. He is up there to bring glory to God, and the crowd feels that. That’s why the energy builds the way it does.”

Dr. Steven Moore brought the song ‘Highways and Byways’ to ACU 23 years ago. Some said the song wouldn’t stick because of its upbeat nature and hand motion, but Dr. Moore said to give it time.

Now, just over two decades later, it has become a staple in ACU history and brings a message that Dr. Moore wants his students and peers to take away each time it’s performed.

“No matter where you go, you’ve got to take God with you and let your faith come out,” Moore said. “In the street, in your home, on the job or all alone. I love that message.”

A message that resonates loudly as he walks through the aisles of seats, high-fiving and fist-bumping students, handing out hugs left and right.

But most importantly, according to Moore, it makes the crowd of hundreds of different people, races and backgrounds become one unified body, worshiping the God of Creation, something that he strives to parallel in his teachings.