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Bob Moses (1935–2021), civil rights activist

by Linnea Crowther

Bob Moses was a civil rights activist known for his work in the South registering Black voters in the 1960s.

Fight for racial justice

Moses was working as a high school teacher in New York City in 1960 when he was inspired to relocate to Mississippi to help register Black voters. He became known for his calm determination even in the face of violence – he once continued registering voters even after he was hit in the head with a knife handle, later seeking medical attention and getting nine stitches. Moses worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was a founder of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project, bringing Northern college students to the South to aid in voter registration efforts. He was also an organizer of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which worked to include Black delegates in the state’s delegation at the Democratic National Convention. In later years, Moses developed the Algebra Project, a math literacy program that helped underprivileged students excel.

Moses on the perils of 1960s civil rights work

“Sometimes you were in no danger and sometimes you were in very real danger. And you can’t live as though you’re in very real danger every day, every minute. Right. No one can survive like that. And the trick was to begin to understand those times when you were in very real danger. And how to move in those times and also to take advantage of those times when you were not in real danger so that you could relax. But it is true that we were often in danger.” —from an interview for Washington University in St. Louis

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Tributes to Bob Moses

Full obituary: The New York Times

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