Bob Moses was born in Harlem, New York on January 23, 1935. He is an African American, Harvard-trained educator who began working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as a field secretary in 1960. In 1964 he became the Co-Director of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) and as director of SNCC’s Mississippi Project he served as the main organizer of Freedom Summer. He was also highly involved in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Moses worked in small Mississippi towns organizing for power among the poor and excluded. Moses tried to be a catalyst—without being the determining force—of the another person’s decision to act. Moses believed that an oppressed people—if affirmed in their created dignity through participation in a supportive community—could find the power to voice their goals and to determine the steps necessary to realize them. Moses left SNCC after Stokely Carmichael became president, steering SNCC towards the Black Power movement. After stints in Canada (to avoid the Vietnam draft) and Tanzania (where he worked as a teacher), Moses returned to Harvard to earn a doctorate in philosophy. He began teaching high school math and won a MacArthur Fellowship, which he used to create the Algebra Project, a foundation devoted to improving minority education in mathematics.
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