Growing Up in the South: Coming of Age in Mississippi


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Living in rural Mississippi, Moody’s experience in life created the woman she was in the future day of that time. Moody’s experiences growing up allowed her to set a path to her future while becoming an activist in the movement of civil rights to stand up for what she believed in. Segregation caused a big impact on her life which opened the option to join the civil rights movements. Anne’s view on prejudices and disunity that she had encountered impacted her thoughts and responses.

Many think the south is a poor and dirty place to live or travel to. Anne Moody starts her story by providing imagery about when and where the place she called home was. Moody’s parents were not the wealthiest people in Mississippi, her mother, Too sweet, and her father, Diddly, were both sharecroppers for a plantation that they were currently living on. While Toosweet would help out with the sharecropping, she was constantly getting hired as a maid or a cook to help provide for her family. Not coming from a lot of money or a wealthy lifestyle, Moody was always extremely fortunate and humbled to receive any sort of gifts or things like clothing and even a scholarship to go to college.

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One thing that frustrates Anne Moody is how the blacks refuse to come together to make their lives better. According to the book “COMING OF AGE IN MISSISSIPPI” Anne Moody stated in chapter 24 that “We had “dreamers” instead of leaders leading us.” For something like the civil rights movement to happen there needs to be more than one person to have an impact. There must be an assembled group to rise against racial conflict and the disunity in the group causes nothing to get fixed. In fact, when she “…was fifteen years old when I began to hate people. I hated the white men who murdered Emmett Till and I hated all the other whites who were responsible for the countless mur¬ders Mrs. Rice had told me about and those I vaguely re¬membered from childhood. But I also hated Negroes. I hated them for not standing up and doing something about the murders. In fact, I think I had a stronger resentment to¬ward Negroes for letting the whites kill them than toward the whites. Anyway, it was at this stage in my life that I began to look upon Negro men as cowards. I could not respect them for smiling in a white man’s face, addressing him as Mr. So-and-So, saying yessuh and nosh when after they were home behind closed doors that same white man was a son of a bitch, a bastard, or any other name more suitable than mister” (Moody, Chapter 11). The disunity created distrust and frustration in Moody even though they all wanted the same thing in the end.

Another thing that has impacted Anne’s life decisions is conflicts, not just any conflicts though, ones with her mother. As Moody begins to grow up, Too sweet has her say in what Anne should do and they begin to argue and disagree. Moody has to start making decisions on her own, this leads to some civil rights movements. As Moody begins to grow up and go to high school, she begins to realize multiple things that concerned her about segregation and inequality. “I had found something outside myself that gave meaning to my life” (Moody, Chapter 21).

For instance, in the book, Anne Moody heard about a young black fourteen-year-old teen named Emmett Till who had been murder for apparently whistling at a white woman. When Anne was a child, she was too young to realize what racial inequality was, now that she is older and has more knowledge about these situations, she became curious to see if there were any differences in black and white men and women. “Little by little, it was getting harder and harder for me not to speak out” (Moody, Chapter 13).

While this is occurring, a group called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was heard about by Anne. “It no longer seemed important to prove anything. I had found something outside myself that gave meaning to my life” (Moody, Chapter 22). The NAACP is a civil rights organization in the U.S. formed in 1909 as a bi-racial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans. With the introduction of the NAACP to Anne’s life, she begins to realize the inequalities of black people and she knew those inequalities can be overcome. “The fear of being killed just because I was black … was the worst of my fears” (Moody, Chapter 10). In addition, Moody becomes independent and began to look down on her mother. While this was occurring, Anne had changed her name. Due to feeling like a farm animal, she changed it. Moody cannot stand her mother’s family by now and moves away with her father and his wife and grew closer to them.

After high school, Anne went to Natchez College. This college was a majority all-colored school in Mississippi, created by on Baptist-based routes. In college, Anne joined the NAACP and met her first boyfriend. As her time at Natchez College comes to an end, she attended Tugaloo College. She remained in the NAACP even when she was prohibited by the police and her mother. After college ended, she continued to be a part of the NAACP as a vital part of the organization throughout her writings.

Anne Moody’s actions and thoughts were created by moments and life experiences she had witnessed in her life. In addition, Anne would not be the woman she sought out to be if these experiences did not happen. Moody’s life and writings have influenced many throughout the years, she has impacted lives and minds. The NAACP positively impacted Anne Moody’s life by providing a force for desegregation laws and enforcement.

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