Robert Parris Moses popularly known as “Bob” was a civil rights activist and an educator. He was known for his work as a Student National Coordinating Committee leader on voter education and registration in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement and co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
Moses began working with civil rights activists in 1960 and became a field secretary for the Student National Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Later he became the strategic coordinator and director of the SNCC’s Mississippi project in 1961, he worked to register Black Mississippians to vote.
He became one of the influential black leaders of the civil rights struggle and had a grassroots and community-based leadership vision. Although Moses’ leadership style was different from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s, King appreciated Moses’s contributions to the movement, claiming they were inspiring.
Moses was the first African American to challenge white violence, he faced relentless violence and official intimidation and was beaten and arrested in Amite County. He filed assault charges against his attacker, though the white jury acquitted the man, the Judge told Moses that he couldn’t protect him.
He became the co-director of the council of Federated Organizations (COFO) in 1964, an umbrella organization for the major civil rights groups working in Mississippi. He was one of the calm civil rights leaders who kept the group focused.
Due to his contributions and influence, Moses was named a Frank H. T. Rhodes Class of ‘56 Professor at Cornell University in 2006. He taught an African American Studies class with Professor Tera Hunter in the Spring 2012 semester, as a visiting scholar at Princeton University. The My Hero project identified him as a ‘Teaching Hero’.