CCI Researchers Study the Rhetoric of Civil Rights Advocate Bob Moses

CCI Faculty member Dr. Davis Houck, Fannie Lou Hamer Professor of Communication, Erika LeFlouria, studying Media/Communication Studies and working as Deputy Sports Editor of the FSView, and Dean Delp, a recent alumnus with degrees in Media/Communication Studies and Film, have come together to study the rhetoric employed by civil rights advocate Bob Moses. Their work was recently published in the journal Voices of Democracy.

Robert “Bob” Moses (1935-2021) was an educator, speaker, and activist for the Civil Rights movement. In the early 1960’s, Moses worked primarily in Mississippi, with the goal of helping Black Mississippians register to vote. Moses was a major player in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), an organization that sought to register and mobilize Black voters in the South. He recently passed away in July of 2021.

The group analyzed Moses’ 1964 address “Speech at Stanford University.” In this piece, Moses speaks on the danger of their project, but urges both black and white activists to not give up the fight for voting equality. Moses was soft-spoken and often avoided publicity, and for that reason many of his works were lost with time. “We have very few speeches of his that survive, so this one, more than one hour, is a gem, and the sound quality is great.” said Dr. Houck. “Stanford provided us with an audio recording from their archives. We wanted to see how Moses worked his rhetorical magic with a large group of undergraduates.” Moses’ unique rhetorical style and subdued manner of speaking attracted researchers to this piece. “In many ways, he was the anti-rhetorician: He was very subdued; very chill; very understated; very quiet in his speaking voice. Moses is also very understudied as a speaker, so we wanted to learn more about his approach.” added Dr. Houck.

To read the study in full, click here.