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Bob Moses: Voting Rights Activist

Bob Moses, 1935 to 2021

When Robert Parris (Bob ) Moses visited E.W. Steptoe’s farm in southern Mississippi in 1963, the end of legal segregation was just a matter of time. His bravery, selflessness, and integrity left a mark on a whole generation and the nation.

This opening clip from We’ll Never Turn Back by Harvey Richards captured the moment when Mississippi NAACP leader E.W. Steptoe greeted SNCC leader Bob Moses on his farm and shook his hand. Southern voting rights struggles achieved victory in the 1960s ending legal segregation. Bob Moses played a central role in the struggle that changed the nation and wrote a new chapter in our history. We won the battle then but the war for equal rights still goes on today. He never stopped fighting for equal rights and neither can we.

Bob Moses with Mississippi civil rights activists, 1963.
1963, Mississippi. (L to R) Bob Moses, Julian Bond, Curtis Hayes (Mohammad), unknown man, Hollis Watkins, Amzie Moore, E.W. Steptoe. Photo by Harvey Richards

In 1960, Robert Moses met NAACP leader Amzie Moore through his association with Bayard Rustin and Ella Baker, militant leftists within the civil rights movement, who had met Moore during the 1950’s. Moses became the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee’s leader in Mississippi voter registration activity where he took up the struggle Amzie Moore had been leading for 15 years. SNCC was the militant wing of the civil rights movement. Amzie Moore was their adviser in the state. They faced the most brutal conditions, with the least support and the most powerful enemies. But just like in the trade union movement of the 1930s, the militants made the difference, propelling the issues into public attention, making a crisis for the status quo.

Bob Moses appears in films made in 1963 and 1964 by Harvey Richards in Mississippi in collaboration with Amzie Moore who was the initial contact in Mississippi for Bob Moses bringing the SNCC voter registration campaign into the state. Harvey Richards’ films are We’ll Never Turn Back , Freedom Bound and Dream Deferred, all available for streaming, downloading and as DVDs from Estuary Press. You can also view  Harvey Richards’ still images taken during these filming trips to Mississippi on the Harvey Richards Media Archive . The films are also available on Kanopy from your library.

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