In Coming of Age in Mississippi, what did Anne Moody learn from her mother?

Anne Moody learns from her mother that she has to be a good girl or she'll be killed by an "evil spirit." The evil spirit in question is white supremacy which manifests itself in brutal lynchings, as in the notorious case of Emmett Till.

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Over time, Anne's relationship with her mother becomes somewhat fraught. The main point of contention is that what Mama wants for her daughter is not what Anne wants for herself. Whereas Toosweet wants Anne to fit in and be like everyone else, Anne is much more ambitious and wants to make a big splash in the world.

Eventually, Anne gets her way, and she sets out on the path that will lead her to become deeply involved in the civil rights movement. But before then, Toosweet endeavors to teach her daughter a number of important lessons that she hopes will stand Anne in good stead.

One such lesson concerns the malevolent activities of an evil spirit that's supposedly lurking around, killing African Americans. In actual fact, the said evil spirit consists of racists and white supremacists who summarily kill any Black person they deem to have stepped out of line. But when Mama starts teaching Anne about the evil spirit, Anne is only a little girl, and so Toosweet doesn't feel that it's appropriate to go into details.

Nevertheless, this turns out to be a very valuable lesson because it makes Anne all too aware of the real and ever-presents dangers that exist in the world outside for African Americans. In invoking the frightening specter of an evil spirit, Toosweet hopes that, at the very least, Anne will be aware of the danger that lurks in the world.

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