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Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody

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Anne Moody fought for what she believed in which was ending racism with its attendant segregation, violence, and poverty before and during the Civil Rights movement. Anne Moody’s tough childhood in Mississippi during the pre-civil rights movement led her in wanting to become an active member of the Civil Rights Movement.

Anne Moody and her parents live on the Carter plantation inside a little shack with two rooms. Essie Mae’s story starts in the late 1940’s pre-Civil Rights. During the day her parents would be at work in the field. George Lee who is a family member watches Anne, Adeline, and James during the day while their parents are at work. One day George burns the house down and blames it on Anne, so she gets punished by her father badly for an action that she did not commit. This act of violence that was forced upon her leads to Anne Moody’s fight against injustice experiences blacks faced.

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One of the times that Anne Moody is faced with a problem due to her race is when she goes to the movies with her white friends from the neighborhood and is not allowed to sit with her friends but must sit on the balcony for black people. She wonders why she can’t sit in the regular seats of the white kids in the neighborhood and what made them different or more special than her. Why are they able to sit in regular sits while she sits on the balcony and why do they get to play with nicer toys than she can. Based on this encounter Moody’s concerns with racism at an early age and the experiences she learns more about lead to her wanting to justice for African Americans. She fights for justice when she gets a job under Mrs. Burke who is a very extreme white supremacist. Mrs. Burke wants Anne to enter in the back door and not the front door because that is where she is supposed to enter. Mrs. Burke is determined and wants to do everything in her power to segregate Anne, but Anne is very diligent in showing she has the right to enter the front door and she knows how to iron shirts properly, so Mrs. Burke eventually stops trying. Mrs. Burke has a son named Wayne who is struggling in Algebra and asks Anne if she can tutor him. Wayne starts to develop some feeling towards Anne and have a crush on her, but his mother Mrs. Burke loses it when he presses his check-up to Anne’s. Anne feels the tension from Mrs. Burke and knows from her emotions that any type of friendship or intimate relationship that wants to be shared between a white male and an African American female is not going to happen.

As a younger child, she struggled to understand the inequity between the races, and she gains no more understanding of this fact as she grows older. She wonders if there are any real differences between blacks and whites, save for the fact that the black women clean the white women’s homes.

Anne hears about the murder of a black boy who is 14 years old in Mississippi in the summer of 1955. This black boy named Emmett Till was murdered for whistling at a white woman. This brutal and unfortunate event in Mississippi sparks Anne’s awareness about the racial inequality that she has consistently been surrounded since childhood. This type of violence that is happening makes her want to be an active member in the civil rights movement because why are these violent crimes only happening to black people especially in the south. Whites have not experienced even close to the amount of violence that African Americans are experiencing. After playing basketball at Natchez College Anne transferred to Tougaloo College. While she is at Tougaloo College she participates in the Woolworths sit-in. At the sit-in, mobs of white people attack the black students who are sitting down at the lunch counter peacefully. These groups of white people attack the students with anything they can get their hands on and even harming a man. Moody also experiences just as much violence as the others and had just as much food on her and her head. Others that joined Moody including her friends Mephis and Pearlena experienced physical violence. Memphis was thrown from his seat and was laying on the floor unconscious with blood coming from his ears and nose. Black women were pulled by their hair also to the floor. This type of boycott was led by the NAACP or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People which Anne joined while at Tougaloo. Anne is passionate about this organization because of their goals that are shared amongst the members in the hope of ending the violence that is shared in the south especially Mississippi as well as all the inequalities shared with them. Even though Moody’s family is not supportive at all of her being an active member of the civil rights movement Anne’s passion outdrives her families concerns


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