Hamilton Mourns Civil Rights Leader Robert Moses ’56

Hamilton Mourns Civil Rights Leader Robert Moses ’56

Robert Moses ’56

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President David Wippman announced the passing of alumnus and civil rights movement icon Robert “Bob” Moses ’56 in an email to the Hamilton community on July 26. 

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Robert Parris Moses ’56, an icon in the civil rights movement and one of Hamilton’s most distinguished alumni, died yesterday in Florida at the age of 86.

Bob Moses was the Mississippi field director for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the founder of the 1964 Freedom Summer Project, which sought to register as many Black voters in Mississippi as possible. Soft-spoken and determined, he endured threats, shootings, beatings, and arrest. In 1982, after being named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, he created The Algebra Project, which views mathematical literacy as a modern civil rights tool. Earlier this year, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Former President Barack Obama called Bob Moses “a hero of mine” and in his memoir A Promised Land, Obama included Moses as one of the “young leaders of the civil rights movement” who inspired him. He said Moses’ “quiet confidence helped shape the civil rights movement, and he inspired generations of young people looking to make a difference.”

Bob Moses returned to campus regularly and was awarded a Hamilton honorary degree in 1991. When he met with students in Professor Sally Cockburn’s “Mathematics in Social Context” class in 2019, he said, “The fundamental issue of citizenship and ‘what does it mean to be a citizen of the nation as opposed to just being a citizen of the state?’ was at the heart of the civil rights movement then, and it’s at the heart of the movement now.”

Bob Moses was committed, courageous, and principled. He represented the highest ideals of a Hamilton education. You can learn more about Bob Moses by reading the tributes that are being published about his life and impact on American society.

New York Times
The Washington Post
Associated Press

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