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Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody

Violence became more common, even with African American’s doing everything they could to remain hidden. Moody, however, chose not to hide, and later became a great activist. , overcoming many hardships that others would have ran from. Moody grew up in southern Mississippi, and her family was very poor. She spent her early childhood living in a shack where her parents worked for a white couple. This was the start to Moody’s hapless upbringing. In Moody’s town, relationships between African Americans and white people were largely frowned upon, and though it is not erectly stated, many were ‘punished’ if they developed a close bond.

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Most children were not allowed to play together, even though the children often were not aware of any differences. Moody says she even ‘checked’ her white friends’ privates to see what all of the fuss was about, but found no difference among them and herself. While some black men were known to rape or sleep with black women, the children that came as a result were most often abandoned, and it was very rare for a mixed child to be claimed by it’s father. Moody recalls her mother taking her and her billing to the movies, where blacks sat in the balconies and whites sat below.

The children see their white friends, Katie and bill, and run to play with them. Moody states ‘All the way back to our house, mama kept telling us that we couldn’t sit downstairs, we couldn’t do this or that with the white children. Up until that time I had never really thought about it. I knew that we were going to separate schools and all, but I never knew why’ (Moody, 33) It is then that Moody realizes that the hatred and separation stems from the color of one’s skin.

Anne enters high school and works very hard to stay in the top of her class, all while becoming more active in standing up for herself and her fellow African Americans, Moody says ‘Up until his death, I had heard of Negroes found floating in a river or dead somewhere with their bodies riddled with bullets. But I didn’t know the mystery behind these killings then. ‘ (Moody, 127) Violence was ever increasing in Mississippi. Emmett Till was a 14 year old boy whom apparently had whistled and a white woman, and then was beaten and murdered because of it. There were hundreds of cases like his over the years were racism was at it’s worst.

Moody’s teacher, Ms. Rice, then tells her about the NAACP, an organization that was formed to get rights for African Americans to better their lives. Ms. Rice advises Moody that it is a dangerous topic to talk about, but has a long conversation with Anne about it anyways. Later, Moody discovers that the teacher was fired. “l never found out why. I haven’t seen her since” (Moody, 135) One can infer that either Ms. Rice simply moved on to another school, or that she was perhaps punished for divulging the information to Moody. While in college, Moody participates in a sit-in at a Woolworth counter.

She and her friends, some white, were battered and beaten. They remained until they were forced out by policemen. African American’s were beginning to stand up for themselves more, and whites were going to extreme lengths to try to keep them in submission. Often, police officers did nothing to help those being abused, and Moody knew that they would have to get the Job done themselves. Moody works along side DRP. Reverend King, and together she pulls herself through college working odd Jobs for eager pay. Many would have given up by this point, but not Anne. Jim Crow laws were perhaps the biggest ‘block between blacks and whites.

Jim Crow laws were specifically designed to keep races apart at all times. Separate churches, schools, stores, and public transport. Separate water fountains for whites and African Americans were even put in place in many towns in the South. Whites and blacks often stayed completely apart in towns. There may as well have been a line, as it was almost that clear to see. Moody says ‘Now that I was thinking about it, their schools, moms, and streets were better than mine’ (Moody, 34) Because blacks’ wages were substantially lower, and it was much harder to find work, almost all lived in poverty.

Some worked for white people, cleaning houses and such, but they still suffered physical and emotional abuse daily. Anne works for Ms. Burke, a white woman whom looks down upon blacks and even holds a meeting in her home with Anne there to discuss African Americans. The sass’s and ass’s were a pivotal time. Mississippi was considered the most violent of all places were discrimination was a factor. Politicians and wealthy people in Mississippi took charge and tried to maintain segregation in spite the growing efforts of African American activists.


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