Coming of Age in MIssissippi

Anne Moody’s life experiences led her to become involved in the Civil Rights Movement, which was a mass protest movement against racial segregation and discrimination in the South. Women played a critical role as they spent much of their time and efforts toward fighting for equal right of African Americans. Women played vital roles in the struggle for human rights and justice in the South. From the very beginning of the movement, black women organized demonstrations at the risk of being killed, and taught illiterate people how to read and write as they could struggled for liberation and freedom, while others took further steps to fight for justice and equal rights. These women suffered greatly, and the cruel oppression exerted on them produced a strong determination to make a difference for their own lives.

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With strictly enforced segregation laws in the South, African Americans were treated as less than humans, freely persecuted, and denied the right to vote. In addition to blatant discrimination atrocities such as shootings, lynchings, beating, bombings, and burning homes took numerous lives of African American men, women, and children. For no other reason than the color of their skin. Emmeth Till, 14 years old was stripped, beaten beyond recognition, and shot for talking to a white women. The unimaginable injustice endured in the South could no longer be ignored, so began the resistance. Leaders like Medgar Evers stepped up and called others to action. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. became one of the faces of the movement. Peaceful protests expressed the cry for change, and its message of equality ignited in the hearts of male and female, young and old, and crossed the lines of color. Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white person and move to the back of the bus. She was arrested as a result. The Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation, but the southern states refused to comply. Movement supporters pressed on. Sit-ins were staged at segregated counters, prejudiced businesses were boycotted, people gathered in groups, marching and singing together. Protesters marched from Selma, AL to Montgomery, AL to demand voting privileges. Supporters also marched in Washington D.C. Dr. King’s speeches rallied supporters. Protesters pushed for integrated schools. Music was a large part of the movement. We Shall Overcome became its anthem. Freedom Riders came from integrated states to challenge the segregated buses of the South. Several southern schools were forced to integrate, and many brave African Americans students needed federal protection from white opposition. Non-violent civil disobedience was met with hatred and cruelty. Unarmed and non-resistant men and women were arrested, brutally beaten, dragged, and much more. Supporters of the movement were attacked regardless of their race. Freedom buses were burned. Other leaders and organizations pursued a different path. They called for self defense and protecting the African American community from police brutality. Of the many losses during the movement, some were also beloved leaders- Medgar Evers assassinated, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated, 1968. Though the movement did not end, it celebrated a landmark triumph in 1964. President Johnson, signing the Civil Rights Act.

Anne Moody remembers the sad and acute poverty rural Mississippi. She recalls that her much later years had been spent in grinding and horrible poverty. In the concluding part of the first section, the author recollects her first calculated act of resistance and rebellion to the racist southern racial codes. This was widespread in the South America. Anne Moody describes that she began to be politically aware and awake when she was a teenager. In today’s times that age happens to be a milestone for the young ones (Moody 127).

She describes that during her first year in high school, Emmett Till, an innocent black boy, about fourteen years old, who had visited Mississippi from Chicago, was lynched because the white attackers accused that the boy had whistled in flirtatious and offensive manner at a white-women. It was a horrible act of cruelty, but Anne Moody provides the sincere details of the tragedy. Moody describes that the murder of that innocent black boy proved to be a defining moment in her life and in her political education. After that tragedy, her thoughts got transformed and she began to think about the subjects which she had never thought about. She describes that after that murder of the black boy, for the first time in her life she realized how far several whites in Mississippi could go to protect their white supremacy and their white way of life. She also began to realized how powerless the blacks were. They were mostly considered savages by the whites and they were too weak to challenge the existing system and arrangements. The author describes that the helplessness of the blacks was visible in their fear. She describes in her autobiography that when she asked some black adults more information on the circumstances which led to the lynching of the black boy, she was told to keep quiet and not to mention that incident again. She says that it became obvious to her that even grown up blacks were afraid to even talk about the injustice committed by the whites (Moody, 128).

Anne Moody describes that one day she asked her mother the meaning of NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), her mother strongly ordered her never again to mention that word in front of any white persons. She said Anne must never repeat that word (Moody, 132). Anne Moody says that shortly thereafter, she found out that there was one adult in her life who could provide her with the answers she had been seeking. It was Mrs. Rice, her homeroom teacher. Mrs. Rice had a vital role in the process of Moody’s maturation. Anne describes that Mrs. Rice very appropriately answered Moody’s questions about the lynched black boy and the NAACP. She also provided a lot of information about the state of race relations in Mississippi (Moody, 134). Moody describes that her curiosity about the NAACP resurfaced later when she was studying at Tougaloo College. She mentions that Mrs. Rice voluntarily gave her a lot of information on several subjects and things Moody did not know about.

In the College section of the autobiography, the author discloses how her commitment to political activism continued to increase. She says that when she was studying in the second year at Natchez College, she assisted in organizing a very successful boycott of the campus cafeteria because a maggot was found in a student’s plate of grits. Moody says that it was her first experiences in organizing a group of several individuals to begin a structured and well planned revolt against the practices being performed by an established institution (Moody, 255). She describes that when she was a junior at Tougaloo College, she joined the NAACP. Moody recounts her terrifying ordeal in Jackson, Mississippi. She describes that once she was there with Rose on a shopping trip. Rose was a fellow student from Tougaloo College. She says that they had not planned which section to visit. She describes that they did not have any plan or support mechanism in that place. Moody says that Rose and she decided to go into the ‘Whites Only’ section of the Trailways bus depot. She describes that seeing them in the whites only section, initially the whites present the waiting area expressed shock, but in a few minutes a mob of white people gathered. They were quire threatening in their manners. The white mob gathered around Moody and Rose and they clearly threatened violence (Moody, 276).

In the movement section of the book, Anne Moody describes in detail her full-scaler involvement in the struggle for civil rights, In the opening chapter of the last section of the autobiography, Moody describes how she participated in a sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Jackson. She says that it was her first involvement in an organized activity in the civil rights movement. She describes that there were three other civil rights workers with her. It is noticeable that two of them were white. Four of them took their seats at the lunch counter. Moody wrote that , as it was predictable, the administration refused to provide them service, but the four civil rights activist did not leave. They remained seated and began to wait. Moody describes that soon a large number of students, all white, from a local school appeared and poured into Woolworth’s. When those white students realized that a sit-in was going on, they surrounded Moody and her companions and began to pass insulting remarks and taunt them (Moody, 288). They abused Moody and her companions with all sorts of ugly words. When they saw that verbal abuse was ineffective, their verbal abuse quickly turned physical.

Moody describes that the white students beat and kicked Moody and her companions. They then eventually dragged Moody about thirty feet toward the main door. They dragged Moody by her hair. Moody describes that the white students smeared ketcup, mustard, sugar, pies, and other things on their faces (Moody, 289). She says that the abuse continued for about three hours. Finally, Dr. Beittel the president of Tougaloo College, arrived and rescued them. Dr. Beittel had been informed of the violence. Moody says that she was escorted out of Woolworth’s by Dr. Beitel, while she was being escorted out, she noticed that there were about ninety white police officers outside the store, but they did not do anything. Moody describes that those cops had been watching the violence from the windows, but they did not try to enter the store to stop the mob or do something to rescue Moody and her three companions (Moody, 290). Through that horrible experience, Moody understood that Mississippi whites were quite sick and they were suffering from a disease which was incurable. She understood that they could be prompted to even kill other so preserve the segregated way of life (Moody, 290).

In the following chapter of the last section of the book Moody presents her comments on the impact of the assassinations of Medgar Evers and President John F. Kennedy on the civil rights movement. She describes how the turmoil continued to increase after these assassinations (Moody, 312). The last chapter of the autobiography, Moody describes how she joined a bus load of civil rights workers on their way to Washington, D.C. She describes that while the bus was moving through the Mississippi landscape, the fellow travelers began to sing the anthem of the civil rights movement, We shall overcome… Moody says that at that time she questioned herself whether they really would be able to overcome (Moody, 423).

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Coming of Age in MIssissippi. (2019, Nov 15). Retrieved December 8, 2022 , from

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