Coming of Age in Mississippi: The Classic Autobiography of a Young Black Girl in the Rural South

by Anne Moody

Paperback, 2004




Delta (2004), Edition: Reprint, 432 pages


Born to a poor couple who were tenant farmers on a plantation in Mississippi, Anne Moody lived through some of the most dangerous days of the pre-civil rights era in the South. The week before she began high school came the news of Emmet Till's lynching. Before then, she had "known the fear of hunger, hell, and the Devil. But now there was...the fear of being killed just because I was black." In that, moment was born the passion for freedom and justice that would change her life. An all-A student whose dream of going to college is realized when she wins a basketball scholarship, she finally dares to join the NAACP in her junior year. Through the NAACP and later through CORE and SNCC she has first-hand experience of the demonstrations and sit-ins that were the mainstay of the civil rights movement, and the arrests and jailings, the shotguns, fire hoses, police dogs, billy clubs and deadly force that were used to destroy it. A deeply personal story but also a portrait of a turning point in our nation's destiny, this autobiography lets us see history in the making, through the eyes of one of the foot soldiers in the civil rights movement.… (more)


½ (208 ratings; 4)

User reviews

LibraryThing member tracyjayhawk
A good, personal account of Jim Crow-era life in Mississippi. The author's family life, schooling, and social situations are painfully recounted, and she gives an excellent insider's chronicle of the Civil Rights movement. Moody was a pioneer.
LibraryThing member Whisper1
I finished this book a few days ago and have really thought a lot about what to say. I have such mixed feelings. It was good enough to hold my interest, but about 3/4 of the way through I grew weary of what I perceived as near constant whining.

Anne deserves so much credit for her bravery during
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the civil rights movement. A part of the infamous Woolworth sit in at the lunch counter wherein she and her fellow protesters sat at what was then an all white lunch counter. Refusing to leave, they suffered verbal and physical abuse. Anne was arrested throughout her career in civil rights protests and she deserves much credit for thousands of hours of trying to canvas black neighborhoods in the hope of increasing voter registration.

Dirt poor as a child, her parents separated and times were very tough. At an early age, she helped support her family by doing various domestic work. She was indeed a very spunky, tough self reliant person.

My fault with the book is the repetitive negativity. It seems that Anne has quite a huge chip on her shoulder, not just regarding white people, but blacks as well. And, many times she comes across as a know it all. Even her assessment of Dr. Martin Luther King's I Had a Dream Speech seemed derogatory.

While I can admire her accomplishments and her fortitude, I also think she had some severe issues of inability to look at herself in relation to her negative comments and actions of others.

I started out very interested in her story and her depiction in all terrible atrocities of southern whites and their treatment of blacks. I can only imagine what it was like to live in this terrible period of history.

However, as I finished the book, I truly wish I could have liked her more.
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LibraryThing member Misoman
I am not a fan of biographies or stories of old but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author is a strong woman who grew up in the middle of rampant racism and segregation and despite the hurdles life and the American culture at that time put in front of her she became a strong individual with an
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even stronger sense of identity. This is an endearing biography that does not hide the author's flaws or biases and makes full known how she felt about white folks. She tells her story in such a way that you can't wait to find out what happens to her next; I couldn't put this book down. Call me a nerd, but this book was surprisingly excellent!!!

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LibraryThing member Appleton
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Anne Moody, as she describes herself and her life in this autobiography, is one of the greatest American heroes of modern times. Importantly she describes the white aggression and violence that she encountered in the segregated south as common and
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endemic to african americans at the time, recognizing countless unamed freedom fighters. She fought racism in her life trying to increase african american voter turn outs at the polls. She took part in the famous lunch counter sit ins. Encountering fear and loss of the deepest magnitude Moody was forced to wonder whether the struggle for rights was worth the added pain she was forced to endure for her heroic efforts.
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LibraryThing member KendraRenee
It's been awhile since I've given any book I've read 5 stars. But this account of growing up in Mississippi during what turns out to be the ground-shaking Civil Rights Movement is SO good. From childhood to age 25 (which is where the autobiography stops), Moody describes how her life was affected
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by the lack of, and eventually the fight for, equal rights for African Americans. It's crazy. I can't belief life was actually like that 60 years ago.

Anne Moody was a fighter, and the story of her struggle alongside the Movement in the 60's and 70's is nothing short of valiant and courageous. I deeply admire this woman, and am grateful to her and people like her who fought so hard to change this country. We're in a better place today because of it.
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LibraryThing member maggiezee
Should be required reading for History and Social Studies in High School.
LibraryThing member VincentDarlage
This book was amazing. My words can't do it justice.
LibraryThing member BeckyGraham1016
Interesting insights into a life I'll never know. I've learned about most of these events in history class, but it is much more interesting to hear it first hand.
LibraryThing member tdpratt
This book should be required reading for every person who lives in the United States. It gives unusual insights into what was going on behind the scenes during the fight for racial equality. For someone who was just born in the mid-60's it gave me a better appreciation of the bravery and guts these
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people had and the brilliance of their grassroots planning. I can't imagine anyone not being awestruck by Anne Moody's story. It's very personal, but ties into a great deal of important historical information about the Civil Rights movement.
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LibraryThing member VhartPowers
The author starts with early memories of traumatic events in her life. She seems to be very naive of events that happen regarding racism. Her mother doesn't educate her in this realm. When Anne goes to college she becomes an active member for the civil rights movement - somewhat of a zealot -and
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she expect every one in her family, every black person for that matter, to join the cause and to think and do as she does.
This is a good book.
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LibraryThing member sochri
I read this for a class in college and my copy is now falling apart. It's a great book about growing up on the front lines of the civil rights movement.
LibraryThing member KayIS813
I liked this a lot more than I thought I would! I might even keep it or get a non crappy edition of it!
LibraryThing member arubabookwoman
This is an unforgettable and powerful autobiography of growing up poor and black in rural Mississippi. Anne Moody was born into poverty in rural Wilkinson County Mississippi in 1940. She got her first job at 9 years old. A few weeks before she entered high school, Emmet Till was murdered a few
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towns down the road. "Before Emmet 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." "But I didn't know what one had to do or not do as a Negro not to be killed."

In high school she learned it was dangerous to even ask what the NAACP was. Nevertheless, after graduation she attended a black college and began participating in civil rights organizing activities. She participated in the first lunch counter sit-ins in Jackson, and she also participated in voter registration efforts. Her family begged her to stop her activities, telling her she was trying to get every Negro in her town murdered. Wilkinson County where she was born and raised was considered too "tough" at the time for organizers to tackle. Members of her family were in fact murdered, and she learned that she herself was on a KKK hit list.

She was at the rally after which Medgar Evers was assassinated. The book ends in 1964, when she is on a bus on the way to DC to attend Congressional hearings and attend a rally with Martin Luther King. The people on the bus are singing "We shall overcome," and Anne ends the book, "I WONDER. I REALLY WONDER." The book was written in 1968, when she was only 28. I finished the book hungering for more information about her life, and I learned a bit from Wikipedia, but unfortunately she did not write another book.

This book brought home to me in a way that was personal and visceral the dangers faced by those working in the civil rights movement in the south in the 1960's, and the atrocities of the Jim Crow era. I knew it was bad, but it was so much worse that I imagined, and I admire these heroes so much. Senator Ted Kennedy called it, "A history of our time seen from the bottom up." Everyone should read this book.
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LibraryThing member sunnydrk
This should be required reading of all students in America. Excellent glimpse into the horrors of living as a black women during the 1950's and 1960's.
LibraryThing member japaul22
[Coming of Age in Mississippi] by [[Anne Moody]]

Anne Moody's memoir of her childhood and young adult years growing up Black in Mississippi is raw and honest and full of pain. Moody was born in 1940 in rural Mississippi. She grew up in poverty with a father who deserted her mother and then a mostly
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absent stepfather. She began working in service at a young age to earn money. A good student, Moody's education and drive are a large part of the book, but her need to make money is always present. She goes to college and starts working with the civil rights movement - participating in sit-ins and demonstrations and trying to stir up support among the Black population.

This book is hard to read for several reasons. Of course, Moody's life is a impossible-to-deny look at how hard life was for Black Americans in the 1950s and 60s. She pulls no punches talking about how all opportunities were denied for her and her family and everything was a struggle. Her language is coarse and angry at times, with lots of swearing, as is understandable considering what she was fighting against. She blames many different people for the lack of change - recognizing the systemic racism in government systems, questioning the efficacy of peaceful protest, calling out police corruption, and screaming in frustration at fellow Blacks who refuse to vote.

Her book is keenly observant and incredibly moving. It is not easy to read, but it is just as important today as it was when it was written in 1968. For me, it clearly shows why we are still where we are today. This was life in America just over 40 years ago.
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LibraryThing member BobVTReader
I came of age during the time period that is covered in this wonderful autobiography and it brought back both good memories as well as bad memories. It was a horrible time period in the history of our country and unfortunately the racial tension has racial relations have not improved a lot. I am
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too old to get back out to march again but that was a time of giants
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LibraryThing member kslade
Really good memoir of a young black girl who lived through the civil rights struggle in Mississippi in the '60s.
LibraryThing member Unkletom
An awe-inspiring memoir of a young woman deeply involved with the Civil Rights campaign in some of the most dangerous counties in Mississippi. It's tempting to say that such atrocities happened in the past, until you stop to think that there are states that even now are doing their utmost to erase
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such stories as this from our schools, and from history. Unless we can own our past, we are assuredly doomed to repeat it.
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Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

432 p.; 5.2 inches


0385337817 / 9780385337816
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