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Civil Rights Icon Who Taught Math, Too, Dies

Robert Parris Moses was 86
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 25, 2021 5:54 PM CDT
Activist, Algebra Project Founder Robert Moses Dies
In this April 6, 1990 file photo, Robert "Bob" Moses teaches an algebra class at Lanier High School in Jackson, Miss. Moses, a civil rights activist during the 1960s and later helped improve minority education in math, died Sunday.   (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis, File)

(Newser) – Robert Parris Moses, a civil rights activist who was shot at and endured beatings and jail while leading Black voter registration drives in the American South during the 1960s and later helped improve minority education in math, has died. He was 86, per the AP. Moses, who was widely referred to as Bob, worked to dismantle segregation as the Mississippi field director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the civil rights movement and was central to the 1964 “Freedom Summer” in which hundreds of students went to the South to register voters. Moses started his “second chapter in civil rights work” by founding in 1982 the Algebra Project thanks to a MacArthur Fellowship. The project included a curriculum Moses developed to help struggling students succeed in math.

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Ben Moynihan, the director of operations for the Algebra Project, said he had talked with Moses’ wife, Dr. Janet Moses, and she said her husband had passed away Sunday morning in Hollywood, Florida. Information was not given as to the cause of death. Moses was born in Harlem, New York, on January 23, 1935, two months after a race riot left three dead and injured 60 in the neighborhood. His grandfather, William Henry Moses, has been a prominent Southern Baptist preacher and a supporter of Marcus Garvey, a Black nationalist leader at the turn of the century. Moses, a Rhodes scholar as well as an activist, had a Ph.D. from Harvard. He taught math in Massachusetts and Mississippi.

(Read more obituary stories.)

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