Robert Russa Moton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Moton in 1916.

Robert Russa Moton (August 26, 1867 – May 31, 1940) was an African-American educator and author.[1] He served as an administrator at Hampton Institute. In 1915 he was named principal of Tuskegee Institute, after the death of founder Dr. Booker T. Washington, a position he held for 20 years until retirement in 1935.

Biography[edit]

Robert Russa Moton was born in Amelia County, Virginia, on August 26, 1867, and raised in nearby Rice, Prince Edward County, Virginia. He graduated from the Hampton Institute in 1890.

He married Elizabeth Hunt Harris in 1905, but she died in 1906. He married his second wife, Jennie Dee Booth, in 1908. They had three daughters together: Charlotte Moton (Hubbard), who became a deputy assistant secretary of state at the State Department under President Lyndon B. Johnson; Catherine Moton (Patterson); and Jennie Moton (Taylor). All three married and had families.[2]

In 1891, Moton was appointed commandant of the male student cadet corps at Hampton Institute, equivalent to Dean of Men, serving in this position for more than a decade. He was informally known as the "Major".

In 1915, after the death of Dr. Booker T. Washington, Moton succeeded Washington as the second principal of the Tuskegee Institute. While supporting the work-study program, he emphasized education, integrating

"liberal arts into the curriculum, establishing bachelor of science degrees in agriculture and education. He improved courses of study, especially in teacher training, elevated the quality of the faculty and administration, constructed new facilities, and significantly increased the endowment by maintaining his connections to wealthy white benefactors in the North."[1]

He served in this position until retirement in 1935. During this period, he agreed to donate 300 acres from the Institute property to enable development of what became the Tuskegee Veterans Administration Medical Center, a home and hospital to serve African-American veterans from World War I, of whom there were an estimated 300,000 in the South. Moton, together with the NAACP and the National Medical Association (a group of black doctors), appealed directly to President Warren G. Harding to gain a commitment for blacks to have access to these jobs, as whites were trying to take control of the facility. This center soon hired numerous black professionals, attracting doctors and nurses from across the country.

Moton wrote a number of books while he served as principal. He attended the First Pan-African Congress in Paris in 1919, meeting other educators and activists from around the world.

Moton was a member of the Gamma Sigma graduate chapter of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, along with George Washington Carver.[3]

Robert R. Moton died in Capahosic, in Gloucester County, Virginia, in 1940 at the age of 73.

Legacy and honors[edit]

  • The Tuskegee syphilis experiment, a notable biomedical research study in U.S. history,[4] began while Moton headed Tuskegee Institute. A clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 in Macon County, Alabama, by the U.S. Public Health Service, it became notorious for ethical issues, as it failed to tell participants their diagnosis and did not treat them, even after penicillin was proven in the 1940s to be effective against syphilis. The study followed the natural progression of untreated syphilis in poor, rural black men who thought they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government.[5]

There is no evidence that Moton, or any African Americans, had any knowledge of the unethical issues relating to the experiment during its implementation. Moton endorsed the study and provided institutional resources, including medical personnel. The study was finally shut down in 1972 amid ethical controversy. The victims of the study included numerous men who died of syphilis, 40 wives who contracted the disease, and 19 children born with congenital syphilis.[6]

  • Moton Field, the initial training base for the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, was named after him. Moton had died the year before the Army commenced formal training of African-American military pilots at Tuskegee Institute. But under his leadership, the school had established a commitment to aeronautical training with facilities, engineering, and technical instructors. These resources were a factor in Tuskegee Institute's participation in the Civilian Pilot Training Program, a nationwide endeavor which eventually led to the training of African-American pilots at Tuskegee.

Public service[edit]

Moton played a role in various aspects of public service.

Publications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ronald L. Heinemann. "Robert Russa Moton (1867–1940)". Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved January 1, 2012. 
  2. ^ "C. M. Hubbard, 82, Ex-State Dept. Aide". New York Times. December 21, 1994. Retrieved 27 December 2011. Charlotte Moton Hubbard, who was deputy assistant secretary of state for public affairs from 1964 to 1970, making her the top-ranking black woman in the Johnson Administration at the time, died on Sunday at her home in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She was 82.... 
  3. ^ Crystal A. Degregory, "Saluting Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. | HBCU Standouts", HBCU Story, January 9, 2014.
  4. ^ Katz RV, Kegeles SS, Kressin NR et al. (November 2006). "The Tuskegee Legacy smart mans to participate in biomedical research". J Health Care Poor Underserved 17 (4): 698–715. doi:10.1353/hpu.2006.0126. PMC 1780164. PMID 17242525. 
  5. ^ "Tuskegee Study - Timeline". NCHHSTP. CDC. June 25, 2008. Retrieved December 4, 2008. 
  6. ^ Heller Jean (July 26, 1972). "Syphilis Victims in U.S. Study Went Untreated for 40 Years; Syphilis Victims Got No Therapy". New York Times. Associated Press. Retrieved December 4, 2008. 
  7. ^ Cecil McKithan (May 23, 1981). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Holly Knoll-R. R. Moton House" (PDF). National Park Service. 
  8. ^ NAACP Spingarn Medal

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]