October 31, 2014

‘Freedom Summer’ organizer to present lecture

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Bob Moses, a primary organizer of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer civil rights and black voter registration initiative, will speak at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Nov. 12. 

Moses, a teacher, community organizer and freedom fighter, will speak at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Ballrooms. His presentation is entitled “We the People:  Constitutional Personhood in Our Time.”  The Student Programming Council Series program is free and open to the public. 

As a prominent member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the 1960s, Moses worked to expand the voter registration of blacks in Mississippi and end racial exclusion. In 1982, he founded the Algebra Project, a national non-profit organization that utilizes mathematics as a tool to ensure every American child receives a quality public school education. As Mississippi Freedom Summer celebrates its 50th anniversary, Moses will tell his story. 

“He is one of the great signs of hope to all of us who see many more crises looming in front of us,” Father Joseph Brown, professor in the Department of Africana Studies and Catholic priest, said. “Bob Moses never went to the mountaintop -- he found a way to bring the mountain down to us all.” 

Gregory Budzban, professor and chair of the mathematics department, said Moses’ efforts expanded political and educational access, which is essential to address income inequality. 

“His visit to SIU and Southern Illinois in this, the 50th anniversary year of Freedom Summer, gives us a wonderful opportunity to think carefully and grapple with these issues in our communities,” Budzban said. 

Prior to Moses’ visit, there will be a “Build a School” workshop and discussion on campus. Set for 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 5, in the Old Main Room at the SIU Student Center, the presentation is inspired by the Young People’s Project, an off-shoot of the Algebra Project that also utilizes math literacy to help students succeed in school and life.  

Naama Lewis, a mathematics doctoral student at SIU, is organizing the presentation, which is free and open to children and the general public. Refreshments will be provided.  Lewis said the intent of the activity is to create a space where people can “begin to think about what a quality education looks like and how that is related to citizenship in America.” 

People planning to attend the “Build a School” workshop are asked to RSVP by emailing Lewis at tleelayl@siu.edu or Matt Ryg, SPC lectures director, at mattryg@siu.edu

Sponsors for Bob Moses’ presentation include the SIU Carbondale Student Programming Council, the Office of SIU President, SIU Carbondale departments of Mathematics and Africana Studies, the colleges of Liberal Arts and Education and Human Services, and the African American Museum of Southern Illinois. The Student Programming Council Lectures Committee is sponsoring the “Build a School” presentation. 

For more information, visit the Student Programming Council website at spc.rso.siu.edu/ or call 618/536-3393.