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Anne Moody

Anne Moody

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Anne Moody is an African-American author who has written about her experiences growing up poor and black in rural Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, joining the Civil Rights Movement
Civil rights movement
The civil rights movement was a worldwide political movement for equality before the law occurring between approximately 1950 and 1980. In many situations it took the form of campaigns of civil resistance aimed at achieving change by nonviolent forms of resistance. In some situations it was...

, and fighting racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

 against blacks in the United States beginning in the 1960s


Born Essie Mae Moody, she was the oldest of nine children. After her parents split up, she grew up with her mother, Toosweet, in Centreville, Mississippi
Centreville, Mississippi
Centreville is a town in Amite and Wilkinson Counties in the U.S. state of Mississippi. The population was 1,680 at the 2000 census. It is part of the McComb, Mississippi Micropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:...

, while her father lived in nearby Woodville
Woodville, Mississippi
Woodville is a town in and the county seat of Wilkinson County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 1,192 at the 2000 census.The Woodville Republican, a weekly newspaper founded in 1823, is the oldest surviving business in Mississippi.-Geography:Woodville is located at .According to...

. At a young age she began working for white families in the area, cleaning their houses and helping their children with homework for only a few dollars a week, while earning perfect grades in school and helping at church. In the community she often heard stories of interracial sexual abuse, miscegenation
Miscegenation is the mixing of different racial groups through marriage, cohabitation, sexual relations, and procreation....

, lynching
Lynching is an extrajudicial execution carried out by a mob, often by hanging, but also by burning at the stake or shooting, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate, control, or otherwise manipulate a population of people. It is related to other means of social control that...

, arson and other acts of racial intimidation. After graduating with honors from a segregated, all-black high school, she attended Natchez
Natchez, Mississippi
Natchez is the county seat of Adams County, Mississippi, United States. With a total population of 18,464 , it is the largest community and the only incorporated municipality within Adams County...

 Junior College (also all black) in 1961 under a basketball scholarship.

Then she moved on to Tougaloo College
Tougaloo College
Tougaloo College is a private, co-educational, liberal arts institution of higher education founded in 1869, in Madison County, north of Jackson, Mississippi, USA.Academically, Tougaloo College has received high ranks in recent years...

 on an academic scholarship to earn a bachelor's degree. At Tougaloo, she became involved with the Congress of Racial Equality
Congress of Racial Equality
The Congress of Racial Equality or CORE was a U.S. civil rights organization that originally played a pivotal role for African-Americans in the Civil Rights Movement...

 (CORE), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, usually abbreviated as NAACP, is an African-American civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909. Its mission is "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to...

, and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee ' was one of the principal organizations of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. It emerged from a series of student meetings led by Ella Baker held at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina in April 1960...

. After graduation, Moody became a full-time worker in the Civil Rights Movement, participating in a Woolworth
F. W. Woolworth Company
The F. W. Woolworth Company was a retail company that was one of the original American five-and-dime stores. The first successful Woolworth store was opened on July 18, 1879 by Frank Winfield Woolworth in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as "Woolworth's Great Five Cent Store"...

's lunchcounter sit-in and protests in Jackson
Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson is the capital and the most populous city of the US state of Mississippi. It is one of two county seats of Hinds County ,. The population of the city declined from 184,256 at the 2000 census to 173,514 at the 2010 census...

. During Freedom Summer
Freedom Summer
Freedom Summer was a campaign in the United States launched in June 1964 to attempt to register as many African American voters as possible in Mississippi which had historically excluded most blacks from voting...

, she worked for CORE in the town of Canton
Canton, Mississippi
Canton is a city in Madison County, Mississippi. The population was 12,911 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Madison County, and situated in the northern part of the metropolitan area surrounding the state capital, Jackson....

. [Inaccurate]


Her autobiography Coming of Age in Mississippi
Coming of Age in Mississippi
Coming of Age in Mississippi is a 1968 memoir by Anne Moody about growing up in rural Mississippi in the middle of the 20th century as an African American woman. The book covers Moody's life from childhood until her late 20s, including her involvement in the civil rights movement, which began when...

is acclaimed for its realistic portrayal of life for a young African American before and during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

In the memoir, Moody gradually developed a position of leadership. Though she faced male dominance and terror from white supremacists during her days in the struggle, Anne refused the idea of being sheltered and worked as hard as any man did for independence. She fought for the freedom of her race demonstrating that liberation was as important to black women as it was to black men. She made herself known as an activist and stood out as a woman who had her own significant voice. Moody worked in dangerous areas in Mississippi and as her position of power grew, the more threatening her work became. She even sacrificed seeing her family for the sake of the movement. Since she was so well known, she could not return to her hometown without putting her family in danger of being abused by the white law enforcement officials. She used her prominent position to educate others on important racial issues. She worked to help young children receive an education so that when they grew up they would have more opportunities available to them. She worked with teenagers as well, for she believed that they were the ones who were going to make significant changes. The work she did with adults was particularly hard because they were either so set in their ways or too afraid to change the things that Anne questioned. Those who tried to vote or join the civil rights movement were often fired from their jobs or suffered beatings or abuse from white people.


Moody's philosophy as an activist prefigured the black power ideologies that emerged from the nonviolent civil rights. She wanted to take power from the whites and she wanted to encourage other members of the black community to do so as well. She understood though that male dominance was prevalent in the Black Power Movement which would not have allowed her to participate as much as she would have liked. In the non-violent Civil Rights Movement, women were allowed much larger roles than in the Black Power Movement. Anne did not agree with the passivity of the non-violent movement. What she dreamed of was a coupling of the rights women had in the non-violent Civil Rights Movement with the strength of the Black Power movement. Anne did not want any man to take credit for the work that she did. She set a strong example for the women who came after her to follow as they faced continual oppression in the form of the male dominance of the black race.


In 1972 she worked as an artist-in-residence in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. She went on to work at Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

and sold a collection of stories in 1975. She has one daughter and does not grant interviews or do public appearances. However she does work as a Counselor for the New York City Poverty Program and lives in the city.


  • Coming of Age in Mississippi (Non-Fiction, Autobiography) (1968)
  • Mr. Death: Four Stories (1975)

External links