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Coming Of Age In Mississippi

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The autobiography entitled Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody (born Essie Mae) is the story of her life as a poor African American girl coming of age in segregated Mississippi. She grew up in Wilkerson County, a rural county overflowing with poverty and racism. Both of her parents spent time working on plantations until her father left the family for another woman. Her mother then obtains a job working as a maid for several white families, in order to support her family. Throughout her childhood she battles discrimination and starvation in order to stay alive in one of the most racially segregated states in America. This autobiography extensively recaps Moody's life beginning at the age of four until her early twenties.

Moody was both timid and curious as a young girl and was afraid to ask her mother questions about things going on around her. This leaves her on her own to learn the importance of race and gender in such a society. Her mother avoids confronting her because she believes society will never change. The first time Moody experienced the issue of racial differences head-on, was when she made friends with some white neighbors. They all decided to go to the movies but, when they arrived she learned that she could not sit with her white friends.

"After the movie incident I realized that all of a sudden they were white, and their whiteness made them better than me. Their whiteness provided them with a pass to downstairs in that nice section and my blackness sent me to the balcony. Now that I was thinking about it, their schools, homes, and streets were better than mine," Moody thought to herself.

Since she had never been exposed to such a situation, she did not know how to react. However, it did open her eyes to a new outlook on life that she was to blind too see before.

As time progressed Moody entered High School were her knowledge of the racial discrimination in the world was broadened. Emmett Till, a fourteen-year old boy from Chicago, was killed for whistling at a white woman. After hearing this shocking news, Moody realized how ignorant she really was about what was going on around her.

"Before Emmett Till's murder, I had known the fear of hunger, hell, and the Devil, but now, there was a new fear known to me - the fear of being killed just because I was black," Moody's mother did not even discuss this with her daughter. She had to ask her teacher about Till's murder and the NAACP.

Moody held very strong confidence in what she believed to be fair and fighting to stand up for these beliefs. She always wanted to be aware of what was happening around her and became very active in the NAACP. She was determined, unlike most African Americans, to fight the discrimination against blacks. All her mother and other adults did was criticize, warn, and threaten her for taking a stand, but that did not stop her.

As she became more and more involved in the organization it soon became her life. At the end of the book she begins to feel discouraged while on a bus to Washington.

"I WONDER. I really WONDER," Moody says to herself.

The civil rights activists were singing "We Shall Overcome" which lead Moody to really think whether they will really overcome all their problems. It reflects her frustration with the movement in Mississippi. She is upset by the fact that so many Mississippi whites were not letting go of racial inequality. She also is disappointed by the efforts of so many African Americans to fight for their freedom rather than to live with the injustices.

I believe Moody's main purpose to writing her autobiography was to inform the world of such hardships people of color went through. It provides the encouragement that some young



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