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Civil rights pioneer visits WMU Tuesday

March 17, 2006

KALAMAZOO--A pivotal civil rights movement organizer and founder of a national organization demanding math literacy for all students is coming to Western Michigan University to deliver the keynote address for the 2006 Whitney M. Young Jr. Scholars Award Program.

Dr. Robert P. Moses, civil rights crusader, teacher and founder of the Algebra Project, will speak on "Social Responsibility for University Students: Human Rights and Science Education" at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, in Room 4010 of the College of Health and Human Services building. The program is free and open to the public.

The awards program is sponsored by the WMU School of Social Work and co-sponsored by the college, the WMU Division of Multicultural Affairs, WMU's GEAR UP program and the University's Center for the Study of Ethics in Society.

Moses was born and raised in Harlem, earned a bachelor's degree from Hamilton College in 1956 and a master's degree from Harvard University in 1957. He taught mathematics in New York City. He became a civil rights organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and directed its Mississippi project and helped organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

Moses worked for the Ministry of Education in Tanzania, where he was chair of the math department at the Sam School from 1969 to 1975, before returning to Harvard to earn a doctorate. He was a MacArthur Fellow from 1982-87, using his fellowship to teach algebra as a full-time volunteer to seventh- and eighth-graders at M.L. King Elementary School in Cambridge, Mass. During that time, he developed the concept for the Algebra Project.

The Algebra Project seeks to build the demand for math literacy in local sites across the country. Its leadership views this focus as a continuation of the civil rights struggle in which transforming math education in the nation's schools is as urgent today as was winning the right to vote in the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s.

For more information about Moses' visit, call (269) 387-3171.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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