In Memoriam: Robert Parris Moses, 1935-2021

Robert Moses, an icon of the civil rights movement and the founder of the Algebra Project, died on July 25 in Hollywood, Florida. He was 86 years old.

Dr. Moses was born and raised in Harlem. He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, and a master’s degree in philosophy from Harvard University. He then became actively involved in the civil rights movement in the South. He directed the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee’s Mississippi Voter Registration Project from 1961-1964 and was a lead organizer for the 1964 Mississippi “Freedom” Summer Project.

Dr. Moses taught mathematics at the Samé School in Tanzania from 1969 – 1976. He returned to the United States to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy at Harvard University. After winning a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Award” in 1982, he used the fellowship money to begin the Algebra Project, which uses mathematics as an organizing tool for quality education for all children in America. With the support of the National Science Foundation, the Algebra Project works with middle and high school students who previously performed in the lowest quartile on standardized exams involving their parents, teachers, and the community to boost mathematics proficiency. More than 40,000 students have participated in the project.

Dr. Moses taught at New York University School of Law and Princeton University. He also served as the Frank H. T. Rhodes Class of ’56 Professor at Cornell University.

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