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Biographical Details of Leadership
Contemporary Lens on Black Leadership
Historical Focus on Race
Robert [Bob] Parris Moses was born in 1935 in Harlem, New York. He graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Hamilton College in 1956 and received an M.A. from Harvard University in 1957. From 1958-1961, he taught at the prestigious Horace Mann High School in New York. He was Mississippi field secretary for SNCC between 1961 and 1964 and organized Freedom Summer. He went to Canada in 1966 and then to Tanzania from 1969-1975, where he taught mathematics. When he returned to the U.S. in 1976, he became a high school mathematics teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he was doing graduate work at Harvard University in the philosophy of mathematics. Bob Moses founded the Algebra Project in 1982 under the auspices of a MacArthur Fellowship. He has dedicated his time to expanding this project nationally in order to reform education for students from historically underserved communities. He is a powerful advocate for the poor and has played a significant role in educational reform to provide true equal opportunity. In addition to a MacArthur Fellowship, he has received the Heinz Award for the Human Condition in 2000, the James Bryant Conant Award in 2002, the Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship in 2005. He has received honorary degrees from Swathmore College and Harvard University and has taught at Cornell and Princeton.
Bob Moses is a scion of the civil rights movement, known for his integrity, deep courage, and tenacity. He was responsible for shifting attention from sit-ins to voter registration drives. In 1960, at the age of 25, he went to Atlanta, Georgia to work with SCLC [Southern Christian Leadership Conference] and Dr. Martin Luther King. But he quickly transferred his allegiance to SNCC, and began to work in Mississippi as a field secretary. From 1961, he directed the voter registration drives of SNCC’s Mississippi Project and by 1964, he became the main organizer of COFO’s [Council of Federated Organization] Freedom Summer project. Freedom Summer brought well over 1,000 out-of-state volunteers to the South to participate in voter registration activities. He was a major organizer of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, challenging the all-white delegation to the 1964 Democratic National Convention. His passionate vision is to facilitate grass-roots and community-based leadership.