Robert Parris Moses

Title

Robert Parris Moses

Subject

African Americans--Civil rights
African Americans--Education
Civil rights movements--United States
Civil rights demonstrations
Civil rights workers
Segregation
African American families
Nonviolence
Passive resistance
African American leadership
Social movements
Violence--Mississippi
Discrimination--Law and legislation
African Americans--Race identity
Communism--United States--History
Race, class, and social structure
Boycotts
Picketing
Race relations--United States

Description

Robert Parris Moses, educator and civil rights leader, was born in 1935 in New York City. He won a scholarship to Hamilton College in Clinton, New York and earned a Master of Arts degree in philosophy from Harvard in 1957. In 1958, Moses worked with Bayard Rustin on the Second Youth March for Integrated Schools and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1960. Moses became the head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Mississippi project in 1961 and soon after became the director for the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) and organizer of the Freedom Summer project. In this interview, Moses discusses the African American sentiment of embarrassment for lack of education and knowledge. He talks about how he began his political activism and his involvement with organizations such as SNCC and SCLC. He discusses Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy of nonviolence, King's influence, and the difference between SNCC's "tactical" nonviolence and King's nonviolence. He discusses segregation in housing and education, and discusses violence within the civil rights movement and against civil rights workers.

Format

audio

Identifier

2003oh041_rpwcr030

Interviewer

Robert Penn Warren

Interviewee

Robert Parris Moses

OHMS Object Text

5.1 2003oh041_rpwcr030 Interview with Robert Parris Moses, February 11, 1964 2003oh041_rpwcr030 01:48:09 ohrpwcr Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Oral History Collection rpwcr001 Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries (Exhibit) African Americans--Civil rights African Americans--Education Civil rights movements--United States Civil rights demonstrations Civil rights workers Segregation African American families Nonviolence Passive resistance African American leadership Social movements Violence--Mississippi Discrimination--Law and legislation African Americans--Race identity Communism--United States--History Race, class, and social structure Boycotts Picketing Race relations--United States Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Sit-ins Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) Martin Luther King, Jr. Integration Housing segregation Busing United States Commission on Civil Rights Malcolm X W.E.B. Dubois U.S. Communist movement World War II Brown vs. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas National Council of Churches March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom Freedom Now (slogan) Howard University Mississippi Freedom Summer Mississippi Democratic Party Robert Parris Moses Robert Penn Warren 2003oh041_rpwcr030_moses_acc001.mp3 0 https://oralhistory.uky.edu/spokedbaudio/2003oh041_rpwcr030_moses_acc001.mp3 Other audio 0 Schooling Now, if you will just announce yourself, your, your name and your organization... Moses details his education, from prep school at Stuyvesant High School through a graduate education at Harvard. He also briefly describes his teaching career. Hamilton College (N.Y.) ; Harlem (N.Y.) ; Harvard University ; New York City (N.Y.) ; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) African Americans--Education ; Preparatory schools ; United States--Race Relations ; Universities and colleges 17 347 Joining the civil rights movement Now, how did you make the shift to active participation in, in, um, civil rights operations? Moses describes his reasons for joining the movement for civil rights. He talks about the dehumanization and alienation African Americans felt, even when they attained the sophistication and pedigree that Moses had. Moses also describes his father and his career. Atlanta (Ga.) ; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ; Great Depression ; Sit-ins ; Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) ; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) African American families ; African Americans--Conduct of life ; African Americans--Segregation ; Childrearing ; Civil rights demonstrations ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Civil rights workers 17 693 Contrasting SNCC from King's philosophy Let me read you a quotation from, um, Dr. Kenneth Clark on Dr. King, and see how you respond to it. Moses details the differences between SNCC's brand of nonviolence and that advocated by Martin Luther King Jr. and the SCLC. He describes SNCC's strategy as a more &quot ; tactical&quot ; approach to nonviolence, rather than a passive, ameliorative approach. Dr. Kenneth Clark ; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ; Pathology ; Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) ; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) African American leadership ; Black Muslims ; Black universities and colleges ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Nonviolence ; Passive resistance ; Protest movements. 17 943 Integration--Looking ahead Somehow that the question of, that in the end, everybody has to live together. Moses reflects broadly on the implications of integration, both in how he hopes SNCC workers can incorporate themselves into the communities where they serve, as well as how American society as a whole will be changed when segregation is eliminated. Howard University ; Integration ; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) African Americans--Social conditions. ; African Americans--Societies, etc. ; Black universities and colleges ; Civil rights demonstrations ; Civil rights workers ; Neighborliness ; Social movements ; United States--Race relations. ; Voter registration--Mississippi 17 1331 Segregation in the North There's another, uh, person who says that. Moses speaks on the notion that the more pressing issue of segregation actually occurs in the northern states rather than the southern states, noting that successes made by the black community in the North can provide a helpful blueprint for how an integrated society can operate and improve itself. Busing ; Housing segregation ; James Baldwin African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; African Americans--Southern States. ; Discrimination in housing ; Segregation in education ; Segregation--United States ; United States--Race relations. 17 1660 Experiencing violence in Mississippi Back to your personal experiences. Moses describes his personal experiences of violence while working with the movement in Mississippi, in which he has been attacked by white people and seen friends attacked and killed. He also discusses how he maintains his relationship with his wife in such a perilous endeavor. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ; Liberty (Miss.) ; Medgar Evers ; United States Commission on Civil Rights African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; African Americans--Southern States. ; Civil rights demonstrations ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Civil rights workers ; Civil rights workers--Violence against ; Discrimination--Law and legislation ; Extrajudicial executions ; United States--Race relations. ; Violence--Mississippi ; Voter registration--Mississippi 17 2171 Influence of Camus You try--you have to overcome that fear. Moses discusses Albert Camus, whose works he read while in jail in Mississippi. He talks about Camus' philosophy on political resistance, and his thoughts on how much change the civil rights movement can rationally hope to achieve. Albert Camus ; French literature ; Hattiesburg (Miss.) Civil rights movements--United States ; Nonviolence ; Passive resistance ; Philosophy ; Social movements ; Terrorism ; Universities and colleges 17 2628 Whites in the movement --What are the actual criticisms? Moses comments on issues related to white people participating in civil rights movements, specifically their roles within the organization compared to those held by black participants, and the identification some white participants feel with African American culture more strongly than their own. Chain-of-command ; Hierarchy ; White workers African American arts ; African American experience ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Civil rights workers--United States ; Social movements ; United States--Race relations. 17 2991 Dubois' split culture concept This is something of a ambivalence that is said to exist, I suppose exists in all societies... Moses gives his philosophical views on how separate he wants black culture to be from white culture, noting the tension between rejecting an American bourgeois society that discriminates against black people while also desiring that middle class lifestyle. 'Uncle Toms' ; Black bourgeoisie ; Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. ; E.U. Essien-Udom ; Malcolm X ; Ralph Bunche ; Ralph Ellison ; W.E.B. Dubois African American leadership ; African Americans--Conduct of life ; African Americans--Race identity. ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; Black Muslims ; Middle class ; United States--Race relations. 17 3881 Civil rights and the Beatniks What about the relation, if any, between, uh, the student movement and beatism? Moses contrasts SNCC and other organizations involved in the civil rights movement with the Beat generation of recent years. He does note, however that the Beats' refusal to appear professionally groomed in their protest has manifested in civil rights meetings and demonstrations. Appearance ; Beatism ; Beatniks ; Beats ; Dress African American leadership ; African Americans--Race identity ; Beat generation ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Protest movements. ; Social movements 17 4186 Communism in the civil rights movement Why did communism never make any headway with the American negro? Moses describes the reasons he believes Communism never attracted a significant amount of African American participants. He notes that African Americans are far more interested in practical political movements rather than grand, abstract political philosophy. &quot ; Commies&quot ; ; Communists ; Compromise ; U.S. Communist movement African Americans--Social conditions. ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Communism ; Communism--United States--History ; Political science--Philosophy ; Protest movements. 17 4396 Recognition of earlier generations Tell me this. Moses speaks at length about the differences between the generation participating in SNCC and other civil rights organizations, and the generations of African Americans that have preceded them. He notes that the World War II generation made significant gains and created a social infrastructure that civil rights relies on. 'The New Negro' ; Brown vs. Board of Education ; Integration ; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) ; Wartime industries ; World War II African Americans--Conduct of life ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; Black Muslims ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Race, class, and social structure ; Segregation in education ; Social movements ; World War, 1939-1945 17 5178 Freedom Day What about Freedom Day in Canton, say, what would it be like? Moses gives a brief description of an upcoming protest in Canton, Mississippi, where SNCC is attempting to build a coalition of religious organizations for a public demonstration. Canton (Miss.) ; National Council of Churches ; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Boycotts ; Civil rights demonstrations ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Civil rights workers ; Picketing ; Protest movements. 17 5251 Quirks of history Do you find any irony, even a mild irony, in the fact of the March on Washington being directed at the Lincoln Monument? Moses responds to Warren's observation that holding a March on Washington at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is somewhat ironic, since Lincoln did not intend for African Americans to have equal footing with white citizens. Abraham Lincoln ; March on Washington, 1963 African American--History ; Civil rights demonstrations ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 --Views on race relations ; Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Views on slavery ; National Monuments 17 5586 Stability and brinkmanship Tell me this. Moses comments on SCLC's slogan &quot ; Freedom Now,&quot ; and how it translates to a desire for immediate rather than gradual change. He discusses with Warren how this philosophy can be interpreted as brinkmanship, or demonstrating so radically as to invite violence from the opposition. Brinkmanship ; Freedom Now ; Gradualism ; Howard University ; Jackson (Miss.) ; Mississippi Democratic Party ; Mississippi Freedom Summer ; Newspapers ; Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) African Americans--Conduct of life ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; Black universities and colleges ; Civil rights demonstrations ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Law enforcement ; Nonviolence ; Protest movements. ; Race relations--United States ; Social movements ; United States--Race relations. 17 interview Robert Parris Moses, educator and civil rights leader, was born in 1935 in New York City. He won a scholarship to Hamilton College in Clinton, New York and earned a Master of Arts degree in philosophy from Harvard in 1957. In 1958, Moses worked with Bayard Rustin on the Second Youth March for Integrated Schools and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1960. Moses became the head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Mississippi project in 1961 and soon after became the director for the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) and organizer of the Freedom Summer project. In this interview, Moses discusses the African American sentiment of embarrassment for lack of education and knowledge. He talks about how he began his political activism and his involvement with organizations such as SNCC and SCLC. He discusses Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy of nonviolence, King's influence, and the difference between SNCC's &quot ; tactical&quot ; nonviolence and King's nonviolence. He discusses segregation in housing and education, and discusses violence within the civil rights movement and against civil rights workers. No transcript. All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries. audio Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries. 0 http://www.nunncenter.net/ohms/render.php?cachefile=2003oh041_rpwcr030_moses_ohm.xml 2003oh041_rpwcr030_moses_ohm.xml https://oralhistory.uky.edu/catalog/xt7pvm42vb4w

Interview Keyword

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
Sit-ins
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Integration
Housing segregation
Busing
United States Commission on Civil Rights
Malcolm X
W.E.B. Dubois
U.S. Communist movement
World War II
Brown vs. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas
National Council of Churches
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
Freedom Now (slogan)
Howard University
Mississippi Freedom Summer
Mississippi Democratic Party

Sort Priority

0016

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Files

moses_sm.jpg


Citation

“Robert Parris Moses,” The Robert Penn Warren Oral History Archive, accessed December 6, 2019, https://www.nunncenter.net/robertpennwarren/items/show/118.