Moses was sent by to Cleveland county to work with , Mississippi's first Civil Rights activist and organizer. Moore was head of his chapter of the , and agreed with Moses that the key to achieving any kind of progress for the Movement would be to obtain voting rights.

Moore introduced Moses to some of the intricacies of the state voting laws, as well as the demographics and tragic voting percentages of specific counties. Moses returned to teaching for a year, deciding to return the next summer.

Upon his arrival the next summer, Moses began full-time activism, as the Movement had begun to spread throughout the student populations of the South. In the spring of 1961, had launched the , and Moses had joined the effort along with . The Kennedy administration feared strong white backlash from the direct action protests, but supported a program to give money towards voter registration, called the Voter Education Project. Moses agreed with the argument that in Mississippi, (in the words of Amzie Moore) "voter registration is direct action." So, Moses was introduced to and began his work in McComb, Mississippi.

While becoming part of Mississippi's movement towards freedom, Moses immediately became entrenched in the status quo, let-it-be attitude of many Black communities. At first, most of the people of McComb County just expected their world to stay the way it was. Moses' ideas seemed too dangerous for people like them to become involved with. Julian Bond remembered fearing that Moses was a communist, "because he was from New York." But eventually, Moses' quiet and determined nature led him to become an icon of hope in the community, allowing the people to trust him, but more importantly trust in themselves. His goals, at first, were just to allow some of the people to make the "mental leap" of seeing themselves as registered voters ready to take control of their political lives.