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Wed, 01.23.1935

Bob Moses, Activist, and Educator born

Bob Moses

*On this date, in 1935, Bob Moses was born.  He was a Black educator and activist.  Robert Parris Moses grew up in Harlem, New York, and graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1952 

He received his B.A. from Hamilton College in 1956. He earned an M.A. in philosophy at Harvard; in 1958, he began teaching at the Horace Mann School in the Bronx of New York City.  Moses began working with civil rights activists in 1960, becoming field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). As director of the SNCC's Mississippi Project in 1961, Moses traveled to Pike County and Amite County to try to register Black voters.  Blacks comprised a majority in both counties; despite many people leaving in the Great Migration in the first half of the 20th century, they had been utterly closed out of the political process since 1890.  

He pushed for the SNCC to engage in "tactical nonviolence."  He is known for his work with the COFO and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.   In 1982 Moses received a MacArthur Fellowship. He used the award to create the Algebra Project, devoted to improving minority education in math, starting with his daughter's classroom in a Cambridge, Massachusetts, public school. Moses also taught math for a time at Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi. He used the Lanier classroom as a laboratory school for developing methods and approaches for the Algebra Project, enlisting the support of parents and the community in the project.  

Since 1982 Moses has developed the nationwide Algebra Project in the United States. He has received a MacArthur Fellowship and other awards for this work, which emphasizes teaching algebra skills to minority students based on broad-based community organizing and collaboration with parents, teachers, and students.  His friend and activist ally Dave Dennis collaborated on the project. In 2005 Moses was selected as one of twelve inaugural Alphonse Fletcher Sr. Fellows by the Fletcher Foundation, which awards substantial grants to scholars and activists working on civil rights issues.  

In 2006 Moses was named a Frank H. T. Rhodes Class of '56 Professor at Cornell University. As a Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, he taught an African American Studies class with Professor Tera Hunter in the Spring of 2012 semester.  Bob Moses was teaching high school math in Jackson, Mississippi, and Miami, Florida.   Robert Moses died on July 25, 2021.

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