Black people nowadays still remember stories from their grandparents about those times, when the black race was under-humans. Anne Moody’s story was one of them. In the poverty and disrespect, one has to pull oneself together and struggle for his life and independence, but even more willpower is required to stand racism while trying not only to survive, but to make a difference, and if not the willpower, hatred is here to help.
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Anne Moody is an Afro-American woman who was brought up in a poor family of workers. Being grown up, she joined the Civil Rights Movement, which served as a valuable experience for her book “Coming of Age in Mississippi”. The book begins with the childhood of the author, starting right with her attitude towards those times. Life wasn’t fair to a little Anne – the chapters about her childhood are alike to a chain of unfortunate events that happened to her and her relatives. During the childhood, her Mamma’s brother on many occasions beat her and her sister Adeline up, and that made relationships within the family static.
Nor was the elder generation merciful to her. Her father also gave her a hard beating, accusing her of starting a fire1. Anne’s Mamma came across as the only character that devotedly loved her daughters and did not let anger settle in their hearts. Eventually, after many mischiefs her father abandons the family. It is notable that little Essie Mae concentrates her story on the family, and of all the whites the only true racist was Mrs. Bruke – the first one of the kind she met. Moody first calls her “nasty,” she also calls the work for her a challenge, and that is how she finishes the story of her childhood.
Her entrance to a high school she associates with a new understanding of the times in which she lived. She heard many stories about Negroes of different age found in the Mississippi, which were alerting her constantly. The narrative of her school years is pierced with cases of blacks’ death. Whites here are presented in an equivocal way. The general mood is created by the facts of killing cases, but about herself she writes that she started to hate people when she was fifteen. She hated every white man who was at least thought to be connected to the murders.
The Brukes family, and Mrs. Bruke precisely, remains a constant direction of Essie’s negative emotions. In an occasion to air her opinion about her she notes that she was “plain tired”. And the woman herself was showing her detest in every possible occasion, even trying to frame her with something, as it was during a story with her purse. She is depicted as a person who contributed to her hatred the most.
However, an initial peacefulness of her nature was revealed in the chapter about the chicken factory, where she worked. The slaughterhouse is one of her most horrific memories about the work. Anne never ate box chickens after that. Only a few times during her school years she writes about hating a white. But even then it was a response, not an initiative.
Martin Luther was the activist of Civil Rights, who appeared in the monograph. During the first times when she saw him, she experienced disappointment. He seemed to be more of a dreamer, that of a leader. She decided that every politician was like that as she was watching him talking about his dreams. One of the patterns that made her even more determined was when they learned about bombings. Her hatred finds an outburst in her monolog to the God, during which she threatened to kill him. She claimed non-violence to have served its purpose, and that is the precise point she criticizes in Luther’s theory.
Anne Moody happened to be put in jail for her actions. And her period in jail is another thing, about which she has something to say. Cells in jail had no curtains over showers, and every time the water was running guardians came to look at naked girls. Albeit the prisoners were able to deal with that, another print was left in Essie’s mind. Her mood elevated when she learned about the movement’s progress. They were singing songs for hours until guardians shoved them solitary chambers. During the period of her movement, we see changes in comparison to her early and school years. She is mentally stronger, but she gets mad easily. The aggressiveness of her character is obvious. Here she does not hate whites alone. She also hates her own kind for not trying to make a difference, neglecting their status. Only in a while could they finally put efforts in becoming recognized, elevating themselves and their cultural traditions into masses2.
Essie Mae has been through many troubles. Her life was hard but saturated. Her hatred supported her from her early teens and gave her enough strength to carry on the fight. Despite it is a negative feeling, Moody had all the rights and every reason for it to exist.
Luther Luedtke. Making America: The Society and Structure of the United States Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.
Moody, Anne. Coming of Age in Mississippi. New York: A Division of Random House, 1968.
1 – Anne Moody. Coming of Age in Mississippi (New York: A Division of Random House, 1968), 14.
2 – Luther Luedtke. Making America: The Society and Structure of the United States (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), 156.