Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. mourns the loss and celebrates the life of Robert (“Bob”) Parris Moses, brilliant educator, strategist, activist, and architect of the Freedom Summer Project, who also helped to lead one of the most consequential organizations in the shaping of this country. A longtime voting rights activist, who centered the participation of Black voters in our democracy, and education advocate, who founded the Algebra Project, which enhances the mathematical skills of students of color, Moses was considered one of the grandfathers of the civil rights movement. Moses passed away at the age of 86 in Hollywood, Florida.
Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel, Janai Nelson, LDF’s Associate Director-Counsel, and Tré Murphy, LDF’s Director of Community Organizing, issued the following statements regarding Moses’ passing and the legacy he left behind:
“Bob Moses was one of the most consequential thinkers and organizers of the civil rights movement. His deep respect and high regard for poor Black communities in the South undergirded his fierce commitment to the struggle for freedom.
“The architect of Freedom Summer, Mr. Moses was deeply intellectual and strategic, but demonstrated humility and care in his work with local Black communities. He wore bib overalls as a demonstration of solidarity with sharecropper communities he served. We have lost a titan of the struggle for full citizenship for Black people in the United States.”
“Bob Moses was a voting rights crusader who was fearlessly committed to advancing civil rights, even in the face of relentless violence. Among his many impressive accomplishments, Mr. Moses served as a principal organizer for 1964’s Freedom Summer, during which he mentored many young people in the origins of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee’s Black radical tradition and brought significant public attention to voting rights and Black disenfranchisement — struggles that we continue to fight today in the example of his and other freedom fighters’ leadership.”
“Mr. Moses was also a staunch education advocate and activist who was steadfastly committed to ensuring that underserved Black youth acquired mathematical skills — and believed firmly in the linkage between math literacy and full citizenship. Mr. Moses was an emblem of wisdom and strength for the civil rights community — and his brilliance and iconic soft-spoken leadership will be deeply missed.”
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.