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Robert Parris MosesA Life in Civil Rights and Leadership at the Grassroots$
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Laura Visser-Maessen

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469627984

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627984.001.0001

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The Bob Moses Mystique

The Bob Moses Mystique

(p.92) Chapter Four The Bob Moses Mystique
Robert Parris Moses

Laura Visser-Maessen

University of North Carolina Press

Relating how Moses translated his McComb experiences into a solid method of organizing in 1962-1963 and,in the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), found an instrument to apply his approach across Mississippi, this chapteranalyzes how SNCC’s ideals worked in practice and explores the role that Moses’s singular characteristics, known as the Bob Moses Mystique, played in its effect. By incorporating how SNCC-workersin other states, particularly James Bevel and Charles Sherrod,duplicated his approach, it is demonstrated that Mississippi could develop this organizing approach most consistently, largely due to Moses, his hands-on organizing, and stress onexposure, ownership in learning, ‘credentializing’, and creating familial relationships. It illuminates how Moses’s personality, speech, contacts, and vision helped shape the Mississippi movement’s distinctive culture and why these spurred the universal projection of leadership onto Moses. Using Ruleville as a case study of Moses’s and SNCC’s day-to-day activism, it illuminates the interplay between fulltime activists and locals in producing social change. Central in this discussion is how they, through sophisticated planning and ‘trial and error’ tactics and by turning older tactics into organizing tools in themselves, expanded movement participation especially among sharecroppers like Fannie Lou Hamer and increased participants’ commitment, including their own.

Keywords:   Bob Moses Mystique, Council of Federated Churches, James Bevel, Charles Sherrod, Hands-on organizing, Credentializing, Ruleville, Sharecroppers, Fannie Lou Hamer

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