Robert Parris Moses: A Life in Civil Rights and Leadership at the Grassroots

Robert Parris Moses: A Life in Civil Rights and Leadership at the Grassroots

by Laura Visser-Maessen


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One of the most influential leaders in the civil rights movement, Robert Parris Moses was essential in making Mississippi a central battleground state in the fight for voting rights. As a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Moses presented himself as a mere facilitator of grassroots activism rather than a charismatic figure like Martin Luther King Jr. His self-effacing demeanor and his success, especially in steering the events that led to the volatile 1964 Freedom Summer and the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, paradoxically gave him a reputation of nearly heroic proportions. Examining the dilemmas of a leader who worked to cultivate local leadership, historian Laura Visser-Maessen explores the intellectual underpinnings of Moses's strategy, its achievements, and its struggles.

This new biography recasts Moses as an effective, hands-on organizer, safeguarding his ideals while leading from behind the scenes. By returning Moses to his rightful place among the foremost leaders of the movement, Visser-Maessen testifies to Moses's revolutionary approach to grassroots leadership and the power of the individual in generating social change.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469627984
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 05/30/2016
Pages: 456
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Laura Visser-Maessen is assistant professor of American literature and culture at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

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From the Publisher

Bob Moses of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) broke new ground in the struggle for voting rights in Mississippi by daring to go where few activists and organizers before him dared to go. This first substantial examination of his work and ideas is essential reading for anyone seeking understanding of the 1960s civil rights movement. Nuanced in its analysis not just of Moses but also of a movement far more complex than many realize, it gives us insight into the still practically invisible Moses while opening a window onto the still largely misunderstood grassroots organizing work of SNCC in the Black Belt South.—Charlie Cobb, author of This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible and On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail

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