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Civil Rights Leader Robert Moses ’56 to Lecture


Robert Moses ’56, one of the most influential leaders of the civil rights struggle, founder of The Algebra Project, Inc., and a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, will return to Hamilton for a four-day visit and full schedule of activities from  Feb. 18 to 21.

Moses will present a lecture on “Mathematical Literacy and Civil Rights” on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 4 p.m., in the Kennedy Auditorium, Taylor Science Center. The event is free and open to the public.

While on campus, he will meet Mathematics Professor Sally Cockburn’s Mathematics in Social Context classes where he will discuss the Algebra Project. In anticipation of his visit, Cockburn  said, “I’m hoping Bob Moses will help students understand the direct connection he draws between math literacy - or more precisely, the lack of it - and the increasing economic and political stratification of American society, as detailed in his book, Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project.

“It is not only a matter of putting well-trained teachers in every classroom,” she said, “but how mathematics is taught can have a dramatic effect on opening doors to students currently underrepresented in STEM fields.” Her class will be joined by History Professor Maurice Isserman’s “Recent American History” students.

While on campus Moses will also have dinner with students and faculty, and sit in on classes.

Moses received his B.A. in philosophy at Hamilton and also earned an A.M. in philosophy from Harvard University.    

After his time at Hamilton, Moses was very active in the civil rights movement. He started working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee as a field secretary registering black people to vote in 1960. Moses later served as the co-director of the Council of Federated Organizations, a union of civil rights groups across Mississippi, and as founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

In 1982 with aid from the MacArthur Fellowship award, Moses founded The Algebra Project, Inc. The group’s main goal is to increase mathematics literacy in low-income students and students of color by providing college preparatory classes in high school.

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