Coming of Age in Mississippi: Growing Up in Discrimination

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Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody, in my honest opinion I thought the book would be boring, I am happy to say that I was wrong. This story about Anne’s life was really insightful and inspiring. Throughout Anne’s memoir I read about all the discrimination that went on in her life, the constant change that kept happening, with the death in the family her father leaving and marrying someone else and all the half siblings she had. Through all that Anne still wanted to make a difference despite the odds and all the negativity and lack of support from her family. This memoir shows a lot of racism, discrimination, judgement based on race, color, level of education, and wealth. Living through all of this Anne was able to overcome it all and fight for a good cause when she got to College.

In Anne’s memoir she talked about her family not making enough barely having food on the table and working for an evil women named Mrs. Burke. Mrs. Burke was the owner of the plantation that Anne’s family lived on and farmed, this women was always rude, cruel, and mean to Anne because she was black which is not right. Mrs. Burke said a lot of nasty things to Anne that were just plain terrible, I think the reason why Mrs. Burke did not like Anne so much was in light of the fact that Anne was a smart and brilliant young lady, I believe that Mrs. Burke was intimidated by Anne. Anne was a smart girl she took education serious and got good grades and had a lot of potential. It was impressive to read about such dedication to school that Anne had, she talked about how afterschool everyday she would go to work for hours to put food on the table for the family along with helping on the plantation that her family lived on and was still able to get good grade and tutor kids in the town.

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There is a lot of Racism in this book due to the period in time Anne lived in. The first time Anne witnessed racism without knowing that was racism was when they went to the movie theater. In Centreville, Mississippi the town that Anne grew up in there were these two white kids that Anne and her siblings played with and had fun together. These kids were always playing having fun and didn’t know about “racism” or the fact that black cannot associate with white. One Saturday Anne’s mom took them to the movies and in the theater whites sat in the bottom level and blacks would sit in the balcony. Anne and her siblings saw Katie and Bill siting at the bottom level and they went a sat next to them, when their mom noticed where her kids were sitting she went down there and screamed at them and dragged them out of the theater and since that day Katie and Bill stopped being friends with Anne. That incident placed thought in her mind causing her to think a lot about white. “Now all of a sudden they were white, and their whiteness made them better than me. I now realized that not only were they better than me because they were white, but everything they owned and everything connected with them was better than what was available to me' (pg. 34)

'A boy from Mississippi would have known better than that. The boy was from Chicago. Negroes up North have no respect for people. They think they can get away with anything' pg. (132) this quote was said after Emmett Till was shot for whistling to a white girl. Anne did not believe that was right and gave her a terrible fever in light of the fact that blacks were treated unfair and unequally. Due to this event Anne learned about the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) from Mrs. Burk who was talking bad about them. Then the death of Samuel O’Quinn changed Anne’s view on the harshness of racism in Mississippi. Samuel O’Quinn was killed because he was trying to recruit black loyalist for the NAACP. A reward of five hundred dollars was given to whoever kills Samuel. This scared Anne later when thinking about joining this group when she is in college. Events that even happened once she got older example, the murder of Medgar Evers, and the church bombing in Birmingham helped charge Anne’s fire to become an activist the fight for the rights of blacks.

During Anne’s junior year of college she was asked to join the NAACP at Tougaloo College, which brought memories and fear from what happened to Samuel O’Quinn. After attending the first meeting Anne joined the NAACP and in her senior year of college she was more involved and joined CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and later in her life time her and her friend joined COFO (Council of Federate Organizations). Anne’s mother did not like and support what Anne was doing because she was afraid it was going to get her get her killed. Even with the lack of support Anne did it anyways, which is very admiring to do.

Anne’s memoir was very inspiring to read, with everything she went through in the beginning of her life and toward her adult years trying to fight for racial equality and trying to get her community involved but no one caring enough not even her own family “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 toward Negroes for letting the whites kill them than toward whites (pg. 136)” Anne spoke these words when she was trying to get the support from her community to join the fight for racial equality but with the fear of getting killed if they joined the movement kept people from fighting for what was right.

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