Nancy's Reviews > Coming of Age in Mississippi: The Classic Autobiography of a Young Black Girl in the Rural South

Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody
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's review
Mar 31, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: library-books, bio-and-memoirs, history, race-relations, poverty, african-american, shelf-inflicted

Posted at Shelf Inflicted

I recently read Kathryn Stockett’s The Help and while I enjoyed this story tremendously, I wanted to read something that was less uplifting, more realistic, and told from the perspective of an African-American. Anne Moody’s powerful memoir was the perfect choice.

This is a well-told and fascinating story about the author's life growing up in rural Mississippi, and her fight against racism. Her story is chronologically told, from the author's youth in rural Mississippi, her education, family relationships, poverty, racism, violence and finally, her involvement with the Civil Rights Movement.

The last section of the book devoted to Moody’s activism was riveting and deeply disturbing. She participated in the heavily publicized Woolworth sit-in, which was known for its violence, and was deeply shaken by the deaths of four black girls in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

1963 Woolworth Sit-in, Jackson, Mississippi

Once a religious child, she questioned her faith in God.

“Now talk to me, God. Come on down and talk to me. You know, I used to go to Sunday school, church, and B.T.U. every Sunday. We were taught how merciful and forgiving you are. Mama used to tell us that you would forgive us twenty-seven times a day and I believed in you. I bet you those girls in Sunday school were being taught the same as I was when I was their age. Is that teaching wrong? Are you going to forgive their killers? You not gonna answer me, God, hmm? Well if you don’t want to talk, then listen to me. As long as I live, I’ll never be beaten by a white man again. Not like in Woolworth’s. Not anymore. That’s out. You know something else, God? Nonviolence is out. I have a good idea Martin Luther King is talking to you too. If he is, tell him that nonviolence has served its purpose. Tell him that for me, God, and for a lot of other Negroes who must be thinking it today. If you don’t believe that, then I know you must be white, too. And if I ever find out you are white, then I’m through with you. And if I find out you are black, I’ll try my best to kill you when I get to heaven.”

Moody provided details about intimidation, beatings, shootings, and other acts of violence enacted by the Ku Klux Klan against African Americans and their white supporters and about the institutionalized racism that kept many black families mired in poverty. I just wish that Moody had spent more time with the story of her activism and the efforts and sacrifices of Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, and others, rather than mundane details about childhood.

I am thankful to Anne Moody and all the other young people who sacrificed their jobs, safety, and lives to make a stand against injustice and change the course of our history and for their stories that keep them alive in our minds and hearts.
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Reading Progress

March 31, 2011 – Shelved
April 18, 2011 – Started Reading
April 25, 2011 – Shelved as: library-books
April 27, 2011 – Shelved as: bio-and-memoirs
May 8, 2011 – Finished Reading
May 9, 2011 – Shelved as: history
May 9, 2011 – Shelved as: race-relations
May 9, 2011 – Shelved as: poverty
July 5, 2012 – Shelved as: african-american
April 12, 2013 – Shelved as: shelf-inflicted

Comments (showing 1-18)

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Kwesi 章英狮 Hi Nancy, what was happening to that picture?

Nancy Kwesi, This was the 1963 Woolworth Sit-in, a non-violent protest to end racial segregation, in Jackson, Mississippi.

I found more details here:

Our Woolworth Sit-In, Jackson Mississippi, 5/28/63 was the most violently attacked sit-in of the '60s and the most publicized. Involving a White mob of several hundred, it went on for several hours while hostile police from Jackson's huge all-White police department stood by approvingly outside and while hostile FBI agents inside (in sun-glasses) "observed." Seated, left to right are Hunter Gray (John R. Salter, Jr.) -- Native American; Joan Trumpauer (now Mulholland), a White Southern student at our private Black college, Tougaloo College [one of two White students at Tougaloo]; Anne Moody, Black, from Wilkinson County, Mississippi. I, Gray [Salter] was a very young Tougaloo professor; and Joan and Anne were my students. All of us are covered with sugar, salt, mustard, and other slop. I was beaten many times -- fists, brass knuckles, and a broken glass sugar container -- and am covered with blood.

message 16: by Nancy (last edited Jul 05, 2012 06:30PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nancy Here's an interesting article about Joan Trumpauer-Mulholland, who is facing Anne Moody in the above picture.

message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

The Help was uplifting? I didn't find it to be so at all. It depressed me.

Nancy While The Help was bleak at times, I thought it ended on a hopeful and optimistic note.

message 13: by Lawyer (new)

Lawyer Excellent review of a classic, Nancy. My read of The Help led me to a read of The Color Purple and The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man.

Ironically, next to my laptop is The Schoolhouse Door: Segregation's Last Stand at the University of Alabama Press. My next door neighbor just passed it on to me today.

"I am thankful to Anne Moody and all the other young people who sacrificed their jobs, safety, and lives to make a stand against injustice and change the course of our history and for their stories that keep them alive in our minds and hearts."

Beautiful work, Nancy.

Nancy Thank you, Mike. Your compliment made my day! :)

I read The Color Purple and saw the film quite a while ago. I'll check out the other titles you mentioned.

message 11: by Will (new)

Will Byrnes We all owe these heroes so much

Nancy Just noticed the above link about Joan Trumpauer-Mulholland is no longer valid. Here is an NPR article about Joan and The Freedom Riders:

Mary The beauty of Anne Moody's autobiography is that it's realistic. Which The Help is not. Not in any way. To get a real picture of the environment that produced the Civil Rights Movement, you need all the "mundane details" of Moody's growing up years. If you just read the highlights and the 'heroes' of the Movement, you get a false, superficial picture. The Movement was in essence, all the Anne Moody's of the South, with all their life experience. I know. I was there.

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

A picture really does say 1000 words, doesn't it.

 ~*~Princess Nhya~*~ Excellent :)

Nancy Thank you! :)

Audra mundane details about childhood?
if she followed your advice (which I'm glad she didn't) maybe this title would have been better: Already Of Age In Mississippi. never mundane where she came from.

message 4: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason Koivu Thanks for that review, Nancy!

Nancy Jason wrote: "Thanks for that review, Nancy!"

You're welcome. :)

Emily Interesting that we had such different perspectives of this book. I absolutely loved the first half and got bogged down in the second half. While I completely respect and appreciate everything that Moody did for the movement, I just didn't find the last third of the book as interesting; it seemed to drag for me and ended on a pretty hopeless note.

Olga Levin That talk with God part she had really got to me man!

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