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Anne Moody Essay, Research Paper
ESSAY ASSIGMENT #2
America of the 1960s was a social and ideological
battleground. It was fighting an idelogical war in southeast
Asia, while at home it was battling civil rights conflicts
which had been simmering just beneath the surface for over a
hundred years. In what could only be explained as historical
irony, the U.S. military was fighting for human rights for
the South Vietnamese while denying civil rights to its
citizens whose only “crime” was that their skin was black.
The civil rights movement not only defined America, but also
the lives of the black men and women who had long known
oppression, and were frutrated by the feeble attempts to
combat it. Anne Moody’s autobiography, Coming of Age in
Mississippi, explored the impact of the civil rights
movement on her life and perspective. We can find three
events in Moody’s as turning points in her life; her high-
school days, her college experiences, and finally, the
As Moody recalled her childhood, she acknowledged that
from a very early age, racism wasn’t just something to read
about in newspapers. In Mississippi, it was like an
insidious cancer from which there was no escape. Even as a
child, although she lacked the intellectual comprehension of
prejudice, she knew that she was treated differently from
other children. She wondered why the white families had such
modern conveniences as indoor toilets, while her family and
those like them were denied such things. What was their
secret? Moody was an acaemic scholar who had received a
college scholarship, much to the delight of her parents, but
she always knew she would never be like everybody else. Her
family were proud, working-class people who attempted to
assimilate into the American mainstream, but racism made
Moody angry and eager to fight. This left her increasingly
alienated from family members who did not understand why she
had to engage in public protest or volunteer her services to
ensure the voting rights of black citizens.
Mississippi had long the sight of vigilante style
justice, where black men were executed by a white judge and
jury, without the opportunity to speak out in their own
defense. When a 14-year-old visitor from Chicago named
Emmitt Till had been hanged for allegedly whistling at an
attractive white woman, Anne Moody could remain silent no
longer. She was infuriated by her fellow African Americans’
reluctance to decry such injustice. Moody became a visible
and vocal supporter of the civil rights movement, to the
extent that her name was prominently featured on the Ku Klux
Klan’s notorious “black” list. One night, she was even
forced to spend the night outdoors, hiding from the wrath of
the KKK like a hunted animal.
Anne Moody’s recollections of growing up in
Mississippi’s tumultuous social climate pulls no punches. It
is a no-nonsense memoir in everyday language which is easily
understood by everyone, regardless of educational
background. Moody’s youthful idealism embraces the civil-
rights movement wholeheartedly. But eventually, she begins
to doubt the potency of the movement and its nonviolent
spokesman, Martin Luther King, Jr. Two factions began to
emerge within the movement itself, the pacifistic position
advocated by King and his followers, and the more militant
stance of Malcolm X. Moody has the courage to wonder aloud,
can the civil rights movement be ultimately successful
without violence, or is civil disobedience akin to doing
nothing? When your fellow man is being clubbed in the
streets or hung in the trees, is “turning the other cheek”
an effective response? Having endured blows by the fists of
a white man, it is natural for Moody to want to fight back
to protect both herself and her race.
In conclusion we can say that Coming of Age in
Mississippi truly conveys what it was like to be an African-
American female living under the oppressive daily shadow of
racism. anne Moody had the courage to criticize the
ineffectiveness of the civil rights movement and openly
question whether the nonviolent approach was relevant. The
autobiography does not provide any tidy conclusions, and
when Anne Moody considers the words, “We Shall Overcome,”
which symbolized the 1963 March on Washington, she was
unafraid to speculate, “I wonder. I really wonder…” (384)
WORK CITED Moody, Anne. Coming of Age in Mississippi.
WORK CITED Moody, Anne. Coming of Age in Mississippi.
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