I KNEW BOB MOSES
I knew Bob Moses. I met him several times over the years. This was often at a SOC
(Southern Organizing Committee) or a meeting on Voter Registration with Bob Zellner
and Rev. Avery Alexander in New Orleans. He would also come to Mississippi often.
Three or four times a year. I met him and Diane Nash on the steps of the State Capitol
in Jackson one time. We were joining other organizers from around the state who were
demanding the Confederate flag be removed from its perch near the top of the flagpole.
Some felt it should be the first flag flying.
Bob would come to McComb at least once a year. I met him for the last time in the fall
of 2016 when he came to town to celebrate the 52 nd anniversary of the 1964 Freedom
Summer and to talk to local movement veterans about the beginning of the voter
registration work in Pike County in very early 1961.
Bob Moses was legendary, as famous as Dr. King in some circles. Along with Medgar
Evers and Fannie Lou Hamer, he was a revered figure among those who organized or
were organized by the greats of that era. For me that included Pike County COFO
organizers Curtis Hayes Muhammed and Hollis Watkins.
In this last meeting, Bob Moses mentioned DEEP DENIAL which I had just completed
writing. He held up his copy and said he had stayed up the night before reading it.
Whether true or not, I basked in his recognition. Bob Moses was that kind of guy,
humble to a fault, soft-spoken and ever respectful of those with whom he had worked,
and most of all, of the local people to whom he held himself accountable.
Bob Moses was a witness to the murder of Herbert Lee, a local farmer who lived
outside of Liberty, Mississippi and was attempting to register to vote. Lee was murdered
by a member of the Mississippi State legislature, E.L. Hurst , in broad daylight and in
front of witnesses and yet never charged with a crime.
Moses was always hesitant to make a speech. He didn’t like to be the center of
attention. He was like that in any setting, but he was a giant of the Civil Rights
Movement. His passing places him in that rare pantheon of heroes, male and female,
that made their living contributions to a time that brought out the best of what it means
to be human.
I think of one of his children, Omawale, a son whose hand I shook on one visit,
wondering what he is thinking on this day, one day after the death of this fine man.
Stand tall Bob Moses.