Coming of Age in Mississippi
The book Coming of Age in Mississippi, written by Anne Moody, describes her life during the era of racism in the United States of America. The author, explains what had prompted her to join the civil rights movement as well as the cause of actions and sufferings she encountered in the course of that period.
Question 1. How did Anne Moody’s childhood experiences and encounters with her family and community (Black and White) prepare her to become a civil right activist during her collegiate years?
Anne Moody had no particular event that influences her childhood, but she was troubled living in a low-income family. However, the racism and discrimination that she observed in her childhood nurtured her to become a civil rights activist. She lived with her mother and other siblings after the father left them for another woman, a mulatto Florence. The woman, who held herself high, looked down upon them because they were Negroes. “They were Negroes, and we were also Negroes. I just didn’t see Negroes hating each other so much.” Even before he left, their father had little or no time to spend with the children. Anne’s cousin, George Lee who used to babysit them was abusive and at one time out of anger burnt down the family house and blame Anne for the incidence. Anne Moody was punished for a crime that she never committed. “Daddy must have beaten me a good ten minutes before Mama realized he had lost his senses and came to rescue me.”
The situation got worse when her mother married Raymond, a light-skinned black man, whose mother Miss Pearl treated them coldly because they were not as light as she was. At one time Anne Moody visited Winnie, her grandmother, and her uncle Ed, where she met Sam and Walter. For a moment Anne Moody was confused on why her uncle was white. The confusion prompted her to ask her mother, who snapped, why her uncle was white yet they were blacks. It was her first time to be confronted with the color of her skin in her life. “Before the evening was over, I finally realized that the two boys were Ed’s brothers. But how Ed got two white brothers worried me.”
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The second time Anne Moody was confronted of her skin color, was when she and a few white neighbor kids went to watch a movie. Anne Moody observed her denial to take the regular seats with the white kids but was directed to join the other black kids who watched the movie from a balcony. Another instance is when the news regarding Emmett Till’s lynching came across her before Anne Moody joined high school. Emmett Till’s Lynching referred to the killing of a black person due their race. It was that moment that she grew the passion for justice and freedom that changed her life to a civil rights activist. The urge to demand justice and freedom became imminent when she joined college where she experienced her first demonstration.
Question 2. Discuss how the life of Anne was not the same in Louisiana. What gender and social issues did she witness?
During the summer seasons, Anne usually visited her uncle Ed, who live in Louisiana State, New Orleans. She hoped that her visits would eventually secure a better occupation. At first, Anne Moody was not paid by Mrs. Jetson in her two weeks of hard labor. She later worked as a scab in a chicken slaughterhouse. Anne Moody also got back to school, and she felt more mature than the rest of other students. Because of the different experiences that she encountered, Anne Moody developed a better understanding of the world than when she was in Mississippi.
The following summer, in her sophomore year, Anne Moody had more experiences back in New Orleans where she worked with her grandmother Winnie in a restaurant. While working there, she was promoted from dishwasher to busgirl and later to a waitress. These jobs enabled her to learn all aspects of the restaurant from cooking to money managing. Furthermore, she could work hand in hand with white people, whom never discriminated her because of her dark skin color. They used to go clubbing in addition to movies. Anne Moody was never sectioned due to her race as it was in Mississippi. She also made friends with gays in New Orleans, a practice that was not acceptable in Mississippi. For instance, Anne Moody says that Lola teaches her to dress nicely which gives her body prominence. Lily, on the other hand, was a freaky dancer when they went to clubs.
Question 3. What was the most intense section of the book and why? Provide examples.
The most important part of the book is the section that checks on racism theme. The events that surround the racism subject are crucial for the book. For example, Anne almost turned down a scholarship to Tugaloo just because she heard that the rest of the students there are mulattos, and she is afraid that they will mistreat her because of her dark skin color. It is part of the reason Anne joined the civil right movement. Poverty is also another significant part of themes brought up in the book. Anne Moody and her family were so poor that even though she was a prom queen, she could not afford a dress to attend the dance. She spent her first paycheck on buying school uniform and other supplies for some two girls who were unable to go to school due to lack of these necessities. She refers these girls as an example of her life back in school.
Question 4. How did the Civil Rights Movement impact Anne’s life, and would she be satisfied with the social, economic and political climate in 2016 America? Use examples from the book and the internet to assist with this question.
When Anne joined the movement, she was brave enough considering that they were facing death threats and some of the activists such as McKinley was murdered in front of a gathering of a nonviolent civil rights activists. Those that were not brave like she was quivered and avoided association with the people who participated in the civil rights movements. For instance, Essie Mae’s family members were afraid to communicate with her when she got back home from Canton. They treated her like a stranger for the reasons that they thought of her as a selfish person for engraving their lives through joining the civil rights movement.
Her involvement with the civil right movement she got to meet some famous black empowerment leaders such as Martin Luther King and Jackie Robinson. With them, they managed to push for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and signed into law. They managed to change the country significantly as it was for the first time that discrimination was prohibited in the public employment as well as the businesses that were established based on national origin, sex, religion, color, and race. In the State of Mississippi, the achievement was much more noticeable when the voter registration of qualified black community population shot up from a percentage lower than seven to a commendable sixty-five percent in a span of two years from 1965 to 1967.
Anne before she rested in peace in 2015, she has witnessed her fruits of course of action of joining the movement back in 1968 as she has seen the first black President Barack Obama. Supreme Court decisions have started to help the minorities by making civil rights fair even sounder. Anne is contented because the disability rights, the rights of women, together with the rights of immigrants are respected across the nation. The blacks living in the south have progressed well in high schools and colleges. Their poverty rates have declined due to increased employment opportunities. Less than a decade now, there has been an increase in the number of voters from the black community attendance rate exceeded that of the white community during the 2008 and 2012 presidential race, with the number of elected officials from the black community rose too.
In conclusion, Anne Moody’s childhood and schooling had so much to do with her quest to join the civil rights movement back in 1968. When she acceded to the civil right movement, it was her most elusive action she ever did in her life. Anne almost lost her family and friends, but her spirit for change got rewarded when the Civil Rights Act was passed, and she lived to witness the fruits of her labor till she rested in peace on February 5, 2015. Enormous strides were made against racism in the nation, from social to economic and political since the civil right movement.
- Berkin, Carol, Robert W Cherny, and Christopher Miller. Making America: A History of the United States : Brief. Andover: Cengage Learning, 2011.
- Moody, Anne. Coming of Age in Mississippi. New York: Bantam Dell, 1968.
- Richard, Wolf. “Equality Still Elusive 50 Years after Civil Rights Act.” USA Today. 2014.