Robert "Bob" Moses, a civil rights activist who pushed for quality public school education for all children, has died, NAACP President Derrick Johnson announced on Sunday. He was 86.
"Bob Moses was a giant, a strategist at the core of the civil rights movement," Johnson said. "Through his life's work, he bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice, making our world a better place. He fought for our right to vote, our most sacred right. He knew that justice, freedom, and democracy were not a state, but an ongoing struggle. So may his light continue to guide us as we face another wave of Jim Crow laws. His example is more important now than ever."
Moses was born in New York City in 1935. After earning his master's degree from Harvard University in 1957, he became active in the civil rights movement, joining the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He launched several campaigns to register Black voters and help them past voter literacy tests, and was threatened, beaten, and jailed for his efforts. His Mississippi office was also burned and in 1963, he was shot at by assailants in a car.
He started focusing more on campaigning against the Vietnam War, and when Moses was denied conscientious-objector status, he moved to Canada. Moses then went to Tanzania to teach math, and after returning to the United States in 1976 when amnesty was granted to people who evaded the draft, he launched the Algebra Project, which promotes math literacy to students of color and encourages them to attend college. Moses is survived by his wife, Dr. Janet Jemmott Moses; four children; and seven grandchildren.