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       The subject of our project is Bob Moses, Robert Parris Moses. At the start of this project we knew little more than that Moses was the founder of The Algebra Project. When we told people the name of our subject, they would say - oh Bob Moses of Manhattan's urban renewal.
Since that beginning, we've discovered that our subject was a central figure in some of the most important events in civil rights history - the Mississippi voter registration drives, Freedom Summer 1964, the culmination of those drives, and the organization of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. There wasn't a book on the civil rights movement that we looked at that didn't include a mention of him or his work as an organizer for SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee).
       As an organizer for SNCC in the sixties, Moses adhered to the principles described in SNCC's statement of purpose:

       We affirm the philosophical or religious ideal of nonviolence as the foundation of our purpose, the presupposition of our faith, and the manner of our action. Nonviolence as it grows from Judaic-Christian tradition seeks a social order of justice permeated by love.
       Through nonviolence, courage displaces fear; love transforms hate. Acceptance dissipates prejudice; hope ends despair. Peace dominates war; faith reconciles doubt. Mutual regard cancels enmity. Justice for all overthrows injustice. The redemptive community supersedes systems of gross social immorality.
       Love is the central motif of nonviolence. Love is the force by which God binds man to himself and man to man. Such love goes to the extreme; it remains loving and forgiving even in the midst of hostility. It matches the capacity of evil to inflict suffering with an even more enduring capacity to absorb evil, all the while persisting in love.

       Moses worked to register blacks to vote against incredible odds. There was little money to support the project; the white citizens of Mississippi used every means, including violence, to thwart their fellow black citizens from registering to vote; the Mississippi state government offered no assistance and the Federal government in the form of the FBI and Justice Department were slow to support them. In addition, the people they were trying to organize were very afraid and not even sure that being able to vote would make a difference in their lives.
       Through all this, Moses never wavered from his commitment to his civil rights work. He suffered arrest, beatings, numerous indignities and witnessed the sufferings of many other people. Included in many of the accounts of voter registration work in Mississippi, there is always a description of Moses. He is described as a softspoken, patient, quiet, intelligent, moral figure. James Forman in his book The Making of Black Revolutionaries reported that in the late sixties, Moses dropped his last name and assumed his middle name Parris as his last name.        Forman says that Moses did this to let others in SNCC assume more prominent leadership roles.
       If one looks at his efforts to register black voters or at his efforts with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, one sees that the results of his efforts couldn't have been particularly satisfying. In some cases he had to wait a while to see the fruits of his labors, or the results weren't what he had envisioned. He has seen how long it can take to achieve justice for crimes committed against blacks in the South. On May 1st of this year, 38 years after the crime, Thomas Blanton Jr. was convicted of murdering four black girls in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The parents of only two of these girls were alive to hear the verdict. However, Moses to this day cannot take satisfaction that justice was served, since the killers of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman were never convicted.
       The Algebra Project continues Moses' lifelong goal of improving the lot of his fellow human beings, by organizing and empowering individuals and communities to develop skills to reach out and attain what is rightfully theirs. The work of growing the Algebra Project is difficult because there is resistance from school administrators and government bureaucracies. In an interview with us, Mr. Moses described the difficulty of finding a steady stream of revenue to support The Algebra Project. He said sometimes his work is like being in a desert.
       Moses has been the recipient of a MacArthur "Genius" Grant, a 1997 Peace Award from the War Resisters League, a 1997 Essence Award, a 1999 Heinz Award in the Human Condition. He was cited this year by the Mississippi State Legislature as an "individual who has influenced so many lives in the State of Mississippi". Two books have been written about him: a novel The Children Bob Moses Led by William Heath and a non fiction book Robert Parris Moses & Civil Rights in Mississippi by Eric R. Burner. He has been one of the subjects of several films, and of an episode of Danny Glover's series Courage on the Fox Family Channel. Yet he is not well-known.
       The fact that he is not well-known, doesn't concern him. His concern is with others and their future. He truly has followed in Ella Baker's footsteps, who in describing the civil rights movement once said: "I have always thought what is needed is the development of people who are interested not in being leaders as much as in developing leadership in others." Some observers have said that Bob Moses, like Amzie Moore, is giving his life over to waging a struggle for his fellow men.
       In an interview in April of 2000 on the Mississippi Educational Broadcasting System, Bob Moses said the following:

       "This is my life. And I learned it in the 60's. That is, I learned that this was my life really living in a form of struggle. And I think that you can have a good life in this country in struggle. I think it's one of the few ways you can have a good life in this country."

There are those who are alive yet will never live,
There are those who are dead yet will live forever,
Great deeds inspire and encourage the living.
Inscription on the grave of James Earl Chaney

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