Coming of Age in Mississippi

In the book, Coming of Age in Mississippi, Moody narrates her life from childhood to her time as a woman rights activist. It is a memoir about the struggles she went through as she grew up in the town of Mississippi. The book is a description of the wound of racism as evidenced in American life by an African American woman. Therefore, the book is a sorrowful read that details the tribulations of a woman who goes to great lengths to fight for the liberty of other people at a time when racism was at its peak in America. The writer speaks through a voice of hatred for both whites and blacks for their different and combined roles in making America a bad place to live in. The book is actually unique for bashing her fellow rights activists who she accuses of orchestrating sexism. The book is not fully a work of sorrow but gives hope to the readers at the end of the story. It is the writers’s hope that her people will at one time overcome the vices that face them.

The book is not a piece of morals and how people should conduct themselves but a critical evaluation of all the people including the writer. As thus, she doesn’t just bash other people without looking at the log in her eyes. Moody is critical of others as she is of herself and even confesses of the loathing that she feels herself. In so doing, the writer is able to communicate the dangers of racism and the effects that it has on the people. In addition to her loathing, the writer is also adamant that her background was not very sufficient and that she is socially awkward therefore taking a neutral position in resolving the vices that abound. Moreover, her confessions of her doubts and confusions point to a woman who is struggling with the cruel results of racism.

The book uses the experience of one woman to tell a story that rings across people of different divides. It is a narration of events in her life that resonate with those of millions of people across the world and her courage to do this is evidence of her strength. For instance, the book is full of her fears about losing jobs that she desperately holds on to for her sustenance. In addition, she explores the threat of physical violence within her community and the probability of other woman facing the same fate during their lives. Despite having to face the same timidities as other African American women did, she is brave enough to control her own thus portraying her uniqueness. In another instance, Moody confesses to the realization that hatred for the whites and her willingness to kill them is not an issue affecting her alone but one that affects thousands of other black Americans. The urge to kill other people of different races is an act of cowardice that Moody earnestly rebukes.

It occurs that the civil rights movement was perfect for Moody just as she was right for the movement. She put all her efforts in shaping an indifferent campaign of combining both whites and blacks in fighting for their rights. This is different from the past where whites were less involved in activism than their black counterparts. The acceptance of collaboration with the whites in alleviating their plight gives the writer a sense of purpose and belonging because she is brave in going against traditions. Despite her efforts in combining the whites and the blacks, she still managed to retain her independent spirit. Moreover, the efforts were conducted without reducing her criticism or even exploiting her impatience thereby giving her a neutral position in raising the identified issues.

There are aspects of rejection in the life of the writer and this serve as a barrier tpo her social development. However, the book records various instances in which she shakes off t5eh troubles and concentrates on achieving her goals for a better society. In addition, her involvement in activism blurred the fact that she had faced alienation and rejection from her family. The book reckons that her mother had rejected her in her earlier life thus making her uncomfortable in being herself. The rejection is quite immense and involved rejections from her real father and also her mother’s lover. Eventually, the happenings relating to her family’s rejection of Moody lead her to develop pathological reactions. Importantly however is the fact that her family rejects her purely because they do not agree with her actions and views.

The rejection that Moody faces from everyone around her family serves as an impediment in her quest to advance her activism. It is at such a time that Moody urgently requires an assurance of love from her family. However, the action of enlisting in the rights movement helps in filling the gap of having to bear with the decline of Emma, her role model. The circumstances under which Emma begins to decline spiritually and physically are surprising as she was shot by gunmen. It is however a blessing when Moody decides to join the Civil Rights movement thereby helping her in averting the effects of losing her role model.

Despite the travails that Moody faces during her lifetime, she provides guidance and leadership in shaping the views of black activism and especially in the southern states. This leadership can be extrapolated from the fact that she was an ardent church follower and it is through this that she got involved in activism. It is quite true that African American churches were at the forefront in fighting aggression and oppression. This is derived from the fact that the churches shaped communal values and the social organization of the adjacent communities. In particular, the Baptist churches that Moody attended were at the forefront in forming the civil rights movement. It is no coincidence therefore that Moody was an ardent campaigner in the fight against oppression of black Americans and racial segregation.

Contrary to the expectations of many, however, Moody had some blame for the African American whom she accused of perpetuating hatred instead of peace. It is no surprise that most African American ministers were against activism because it threatened their existence and trade. Activism was a threat to the traditional system and therefore threatened the activities of the ministers. In most instances, Moody expected much more from these pastors and the God that they served and continued to disregard their ideals. In reference to these pastors, Moody used the terms “Uncle Toms” (Moody, pp 68) thus referring to them as collaborators with the white colonialists and supremacists. The faith that these pastors defended was used as a justification of the mistreatment of many African Americans and the proliferation of racism.

Even before the birth of Moody, there still existed a great deal of leadership in Mississippi albeit in smaller magnitudes. Despite the evidently heavy price that the Afgrican Americans were paying at the expense of white supremacy, they were oblivious of the need to have a change in the leadership of Mississippi. In fact, most of these black Americans werer at the forefront in opposing voter registrations and efforts to have black rights. Efforts to enlist in the civil rights movement were also opposed by these black Americans and especially the older generations. Most of these African American were brainwashed by forces that were invisible even to the eyes of the same African Americans. Effectively, the people of Mississippi would have had to wait much longer to have their rights under such types of leadership.

There are suggestions that Moody did not actually engage in the rights movement before the publication of the book and that her involvement was only after the publication. Everything relating to the rights movement is only rumors and her anticipation of the events that will culminate in the movement. Regardless, the prophetic messages that Moody passes across were effective in enlisting most of the African Americans in the movement. In one instance, she states categorically that peaceful protests would get the African Americans nowhere and that there was need for violence to counter the violence they so much needed. The book is further effective in motivating most African Americans to join the civil rights movement and have their say in the leadership of Mississippi.


Works cited

Moody, Anne. Coming of Age in Mississippi. New York: Bantam Dell, 2011. Internet resource.

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