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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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Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

Chapter:
(p.157) Chapter Six Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t
Source:
Robert Parris Moses
Author(s):

Laura Visser-Maessen

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627984.003.0007

Elaborating on the previous chapter, this section examines how the 1963 Freedom Vote, the 1964 Hattiesburg Freedom Day, and the acceptance of plans for a massive Freedom Summer Project utilizing hundreds of northern whites consolidated the Mississippi movement’s convergence with the national civil rights movement. The pivotal role Moses played in these events illuminate his struggles of navigating between facilitating grassroots leadership, his new role as national movement spokesman, and his elevated position in SNCC. By detailing the crucial, behind-the-scenes activities Moses executed during the Freedom Vote and how Moses’s cosmopolitan background shaped discussions over SNCC’s policy on civil liberties, economic inequality, and the Freedom Summer Project, the discrepancies between Moses and most of his SNCC-colleagues (including his wife Dona Richards), who resisted the Project for months, are revealed. Close-up analyses of his relationship with Allard Lowenstein and SNCC’s 1963 Greenville meeting demonstrates his remarkable consensus-building skills and underlines his broad understanding and penetrating intellect. But it also discloses SNCC-workers’ unsettling realization of his influence—leaving Moses trapped between the necessity of providing leadership and avoidance of forcing his views.

Keywords:   Freedom Vote, Hattiesburg Freedom Day, Freedom Summer, Dona Richards, Civil liberties, Economic inequality, Greenville meeting, Facilitating grassroots leadership, Racial violence, Allard Lowenstein

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