Robert P. Moses to Keynote ISA Summer Institute

By Abner Oakes

ISA's Director of Outreach


Robert P. Moses

Dr. Robert P. Moses is an influential civil rights leader, a veteran teacher, and founder of the Algebra Project.  As a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, Dr. Moses used his fellowship to develop the concept for the Algebra Project.  Its premise is that “mathematics literacy in today’s information age is as important to educational access and citizenship for inner city and rural poor middle and high school students as the right to vote was to political access and citizenship for sharecroppers and day laborers in Mississippi in the 1960s.” The Algebra Project’s approach to school reform applies a pedagogy that is focused on the students and community stakeholders in ways that are essential to developing the skills required for 21st century citizenship.  

In his young adult life, Robert “Bob” Parris Moses, founder and president of the Algebra Project,  was a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement as a field secretary for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1961, Moses initiated SNCC’s Mississippi Voter Registration Project and was appointed its director in 1962. He helped to lead the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) into the Mississippi Summer Project (1964 Freedom Summer), which parachuted the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) to the National Democratic Convention in Atlantic City.

Moses received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1982-87), and subsequently started the Algebra Project (AP), which uses mathematics as an organizing tool for a Quality Education as a Constitutional Right (QECR) for all students. With support of the National Science Foundation (NSF) since 2002, the AP has been working with cohorts of high school students who previously performed in the lowest quartile on standardized exams. This work has led AP to propose a math high school “benchmark” for bottom quartile students: that they graduate high school on time, in four years, ready to do college math for college credit.  To this end, AP is exploring collaborations around a concept of “Math Cohort High Schools”.

MosesBooksMoses is co-author of Radical Equations—Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project (Beacon, 2001) and co-editor of Quality Education as a Constitutional Right-creating a grassroots movement to transform public schools (Beacon Press, 2010). In 2011-2012, Moses was the Distinguished Visitor for the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University and was a visiting lecturer at NYU School of Law during the fall semesters, 2012 and 2013.and is Founder and President of the Algebra Project, Inc. 

Born in Harlem, Moses received his BA from Hamilton College (1956), and his MA in Philosophy from Harvard University (1957).