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Robert Moses, the 1960s Civil Rights organizer and activist, passed away over the weekend at the age of 86. Mr. Moses was a champion of voting rights and educational opportunities for marginalized communities.
An educator by trade, Mr. Moses is perhaps best known for his voting rights work in Mississippi, where he organized to bring students from across the country to the Deep South to register voters. The program, which took place during the summer of 1964, was called the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project.
Mr. Moses was also a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, an organization that promoted Civil Rights efforts for Black people in the South. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was also a member, along with many other civil rights supporters who faced violence and jail time in an effort to end disenfranchisement in the South.
“Throughout his life, Bob Moses bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice,” said Derrick Johnson, in a statement on behalf of the NAACP. “He was a strategist at the core of the voting rights movement and beyond. He was a giant. May his light continue to guide us as we face another wave of Jim Crow laws.”
In his later years, Mr. Moses turned toward education as a tool to empower underserved communities, founding The Algebra Project to teach mathematics literacy to a new generation of students. The program seeks to support middle and high school students who are struggling with math and provide opportunities for learning STEAM skills through high school and beyond.
In a statement, The Algebra Project confirmed that the organization will thrive “as we continue to work to realize Bob’s vision of ‘raising the floor of mathematics literacy’ for all young people in the United States of America.”
Ms. Moses earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Harvard in 1957. Following his civil rights triumphs, he fled the United States rather than face a draft to the Vietnam war, and taught mathematics in Tanzania. Mr. Moses then returned to the United States under amnesty from President Jimmy Carter. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1982, and was a personal hero of President Barack Obama.