2001 Robert Parris Moses
Winner of the 2001 Puffin Prize for Creative Citizenship (formerly the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship).
A lifelong social activist, civil rights pioneer, and visionary educator, Bob Moses uniquely exemplified the values and qualities the Puffin/Nation Prize was created to honor. As a pivotal organizer in the early days of the Civil Rights Movement, Moses was a Field Secretary for the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Director of its Mississippi Project. He also served as the Co-Director of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), a group that incorporated all of the major civil rights organizations and agencies working in Mississippi in the early 1960’s. He was recognized as the driving force behind the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964, and organized the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party which challenged the Mississippi regulars at the 1964 Democratic Party Convention in Atlantic City.
Born and raised in Harlem, Bob Moses attended Stuyvesant High School. He received his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College in 1956 and a Masters in Philosophy from Harvard in 1957. He taught middle school mathematics at the Horace Mann School in New York City, and in the early 1970’s worked for the Ministry of Education in Tanzania where he was Chairperson of the Math Department at the Same School.
In 1984, Bob Moses won the MacArthur Foundation “genius” award and used the prize money to develop the Algebra Project – his widely celebrated curriculum that merges civil rights and education by empowering young people with math. The program has grown to serve 10,000 students in 28 cities nationwide.
In 1996, Moses partnered with and helped develop the Young People’s Project, an outgrowth of the Algebra Project led by youth. Bob Moses died in his home in Florida at the age of 86 on July 25th, 2021.
Photo (2014) by Miller Center (Wiki Commons)