Coming Of Age in Mississippi: The Black Freedom Movement Essay

March 9, 2021 by Essay Writer


The word radical is used in connection with the way a person actually tends to solve a problem or provide a solution to a complex situation. The word is often used to refer to the use of extreme measures, which often lead to violent actions against those with differing views.

In her autobiographical book, coming of age in Mississippi, Anne Moody is depicted as a person with multiple characters and therefore makes it hard for one to actually describe her using one character trait. Therefore, the question of whether Moody was radical or not so radical does not have a straight forward answer. Such a matter can only be extensively tackled through an elaborate analysis of different events and actions that are reflected in her memoir.

Radical Traits

Coming of age in Mississippi is an autobiographical book by Anne Moody. The book tries to highlight the lives of black American in the state of Mississippi, and in particular the day-to-day life of a girl child and women in general through the mind of a child. The book is in addition reflects the struggles of blacks in the state of Mississippi, during and after the civil right movements. Moreover, the book brings out clearly and demonstrates the great effort and victories associated with the movement.

The first section of the book highlights Anne’s childhood life, where she is depicted as a child from a very poor family. Similarly, the book clearly illustrates the hardships the girl is undergoing, from poverty to social tribulations such as the break-up of her parent’s marriage. The book has however a brighter side of Anne’s childhood life, where she is portrayed as a “bright, competitive and hardworking student” (Moody 16).

In addition, Anne Moody is demonstrated as a responsible girl who regardless of her tender age, is involved in domestic chore, often is found working as a house cleaner in whites’ families, in order to supplement her family’s meager earning, and eventually places something to eat on the table. According to the writer, Moody lived well with her employers. This was evidenced in the fact that she was always “invited to eat with them on the dinning table”. (Moody 17)

On other front, however, Anne’s character traits are questionable, and one may be tempted to refer to her as radical. The first instance of radicalism is portrayed in her college life, where she had been awarded a basketball scholarship for being an excellent student in class and equally a brilliant player.

Contrary to her childhood life, while in college, Anne was now more aware of the suffering of the blacks through brutal murder and discrimination (Moody 25). In addition, Moody (25) notes that the gap between the white and the blacks was widening every now and then, and that blacks were becoming poorer every other day. According to the author, “Anne was fed up with the racial segregation and the college life as well”.

It was at college when Anne started having issues with some teachers and within no time, the tension between her and teachers was overboard. Anne was opposed to the quality of food provided by the college and ultimately led the other students in demonstrating against the food. Putting this action into consideration, it may be in order to suggest that Anne behaved violently by taking such drastic measures. This is the first time her radical character traits are clearly reflected.

When Anne relocates to Tougaloo College to complete her final two years of college, she becomes aware of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) (Moody 58). It is during her last two years at Tougaloo that she decided to join the Association, and eventually became very active in its activities.

This did not auger well with the administration and the local Sheriff warned her mother, that Anne’s actions were bound to bring problems to the family (Moody 145). Despite her mother’s, pleas, Anne was adamant to continue with the Association’s activities.

In this regard, one is likely to qualify Anne’s behaviors as those of a radical person. Owing to the fact that Anne did not give heed to either her mother or the local police sheriff, means that she did not mind the repercussions her actions were to cause to her family. This was a very radical action and in normal circumstances, one would have thought that Anne was to give her family the first priority and that jeopardizing their lives was not a matter of discussion.

While she was still involved with the activities of NAACP, the author remarks that Anne started contemplating how the “racial inequalities could be overthrown” (Moody, 167). This was equally a very irrational idea, because by all means, it meant that Anne was to be more involved in the Association’s activities. She engages in this new campaign, notwithstanding the fact that the Association had been prohibited in the area.

Similarly, Anne can be termed as a radical person when one puts into consideration some decisions she made in the course of her service to the Association. Although one can argue that, she was affected by her youthful age and the rebellious tendencies associated with many youths, it is equally important to note that some decision she made were so sensitive for one to completely make them alone and mostly at such a tender age.

Moody (167), remarks that Anne went to the extent of changing her name from Essie Mae to Anne Mae, simply because she felt that Essie Mae sounded more of “barnyard animal’s” name.

Her radical actions do not stop there as she at the same time walked out on her family; because her mother’s lover was not fair on her and that, he had started showing signs of sexual advances on her. This resulted in Anne moving with her father and eventually abandoning her mother and other siblings.

Not-so-Radical Traits

It is in her service to the ‘Coalition for the Organization of Racial Equality (CORE)’, that once again her character turns from radical to not so radical or somehow moderate. Though Jackson, Mississippi was a place well known for violence due to black rebellion and white supremacy, Anne is not at a single event involved in any radical measure or action.

While confronted with the task of mobilizing Negroes in order to take part in freedom voting, Anne is composed and rarely loses her temper. She is rational in most of her decision, including the idea of trying to allure voters through providing them with food and clothing. Though most of these Negro voters are ignorant of their right and always want something for nothing, Anne is categorical to them in all her approach to enlighten them.

Another incident that shows her not- so- radical character is when she is subjected to surveillance by an armed police officer. Though she had the support of many high school young men, she never took the advantage of it to harass the police officer.

Once again, when her friend and work mate Doris proposed they start carrying guns, Anne is initially against the idea, and only concurs to it once she is convinced that the arms will typically be used for hunting and not for any violent action. In addition, Anne was always sober in her decisions regardless of the fact that she is on the wanted list of the white supremacists, which means that she could be killed at any time.


Although the author has portrayed Anne as a person with mixed character traits, one can comfortably settle for the fact that Anne acted in a radical manner more in her early teenage years than in her later years. From her life in high school all through to college and finally in her working period, Moody is reflected as a person who has finally come of age and who can comfortably handle and contain her emotions.

Work Cited

Moody, Anne. Coming of age in Mississippi. New York: Delta Trade Paperbacks, 2004.

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