The National Civil Rights Museum mourns the passing of civil rights icon Bob Moses, a visionary leader, innovative educator and champion for voting rights. Moses received the museum’s Freedom Award in 2014.
Bob Moses was born Robert Parrish Moses in Harlem, NY. He understood that access to the ballot for the most underserved required educating the electorate, not only to mitigate obstacles to voting, but also to provide opportunity for economic advancement. As a SNCC field secretary in 1961, he organized Freedom Schools and participated in voter registration drives to reach eligible Black voters and raise the next generation of voters.
As a civil rights activist, educator, and co-director of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), Bob Moses spearheaded the Freedom Summer Project of Mississippi, a grassroots campaign of college students from around the country during one of the state’s most violent periods in civil rights history. He faced constant death threats, was jailed and shot for the cause.
Moses was passionate about bringing math and science literacy to minority students in impoverished communities and driving much-needed educational reform. In 1982 he launched the Algebra Project after receiving the MacAuthur Fellowship. He dedicated his life to creating advanced education toward a newfound competence that was more than empowering, but helped students avoid being labeled as “second-class citizens when they finish high school, destined for low-wage, low-skill work on the second tier of an Information Age economy.”
Moses applied daily the constitutional premise that “We The People” is inclusive of all who believed and acted on it. We are grateful for his forward thinking and belief that leadership is only as great as its impact to train good leaders. Our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and all whose lives he touched. Bob Moses will surely be missed.
Watch a portion of Moses' 2014 Freedom Award acceptance speech below.