Civil rights, education reform activist Bob Moses leads inspiring conversation

Civil rights, education reform activist Bob Moses leads inspiring conversation

On Wednesday, March 12, civil rights leader and education reform activist Bob Moses was the featured speaker for Wagner College's second annual Black History Month Scholar Symposium. Moderating the event was Stephen Preskill, Distinguished Professor of Civic Engagement and Leadership at Wagner College. The program was originally scheduled for Feb. 13, but weather forced us to alter our plans for this event.

Watch the complete conversation here:


Robert P. Moses spent the early 1960s working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, organizing sharecroppers in Greenwood, Mississippi, to demand the right to vote. Here's a short clip from the PBS documentary series, "Eyes on the Prize," when local NAACP leader Amzie Moore asked SNCC organizer Bob Moses to open offices in the state. The program brought volunteers, including many white students from the North, to join local efforts at voter registration and education.


Bob Moses, 2010 (photo courtesy Michael Lisnet, Math for America)

Bob Moses, 2010 (photo courtesy Michael Lisnet, Math for America)

About Bob Moses

Robert “Bob” Parris Moses earned his bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College in 1956 and his M.A. in philosophy from Harvard University in 1957.

Moses was a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement as a field secretary for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. In 1961, Moses initiated SNCC’s Mississippi Voter Registration Project and was appointed its director in 1962. He helped to lead the Council of Federated Organizations into the Mississippi Summer Project — 1964 Freedom Summer — which parachuted the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City.

Moses received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1982-87) and subsequently started the Algebra Project, which uses mathematics as an organizing tool for a “Quality Education as a Constitutional Right” for all students. With support from the National Science Foundation since 2002, the Algebra Project has been working with cohorts of high school students who previously performed in the lowest quartile on standardized exams. This work has led Algebra Project to propose a math high school “benchmark” for bottom quartile students: that they graduate high school on time, in four years, ready to do college math for college credit. To this end, AP is exploring collaborations around a concept of “Math Cohort High Schools.” Moses continues to lead Algebra Project Inc. as its president.

Moses is co-author of “Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project” (Beacon, 2001), and co-editor of “Quality Education as a Constitutional Right: Creating a Grassroots Movement to Transform Public Schools” (Beacon Press, 2010).

In 2011-12, Moses was the Distinguished Visitor for the Center for African-American Studies at Princeton University, and he was a visiting lecturer at the New York University School of Law during the fall semester of 2012.


Web links: More about Bob Moses

  1. American Radio Works has prepared a biography of Bob Moses’ early life by way of introducing a transcript and audio podcast of his April 1964 address at Stanford University about plans for the upcoming Freedom Summer voter registration drive in Mississippi.
  2. In 1982, Robert P. Moses started a math training program — the Algebra Project — with a MacArthur “Genius Grant.” The goal was simple: Take students who score the worst on state math tests, double up on the subject for four years, and get them ready to do college-level math by the end of high school. Last August, NPR’s “Morning Edition” aired this interview with Bob Moses about the Algebra Project.
  3. Bob Moses is co-author of “Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project” (Beacon, 2001)
  4. Bob Moses is co-editor of “Quality Education as a Constitutional Right: Creating a Grassroots Movement to Transform Public School” (Beacon Press, 2010).