Robert Parris Moses: Civil rights activist, algebra teacher, and Chalkboard Hero

New York City math teacher Robert Parris Moses was a legendary figure during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. He was the courageous teacher who orchestrated the black voter-registration efforts and the Freedom Schools made famous during the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer. This heroic educator’s revolutionary work, which was not without risk to life and limb, transformed the political power structure of entire communities.

Now, nearly forty years later, Moses is advocating yet another transformational change: the Algebra Project. Moses asserts that a deficiency in math literacy in poor neighborhoods puts impoverished children at an economic disadvantage when it comes to being able to compete successfully for jobs in the 21st century, and that this disenfranchisement is as debilitating as lack of personal liberties was prior to the Civil Rights Movement.

His solution is to organize people, community by community, school by school, to overcome the achievement gap and give impoverished children 3127[1]the tools they need to claim their share of economic enfranchisement. Moses’s book, Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project written with fellow Civil Rights worker Charles E. Cobb, Jr., can be found easily and reasonably-priced on amazon. A fascinating read for anyone who is interested in Moses’s story, either past or present. A chapter about this remarkable teacher will also be included in my second book, entitled Chalkboard Heroes: Twelve Courageous Teachers and Their Deeds of Valor.  This book is also available on amazon; click on this link to view: Chalkboard Heroes.