Anne Moody Biography

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Anne Moody Biography

Anne Moody didn’t plan on being a writer. She says that she was “first and foremost an activist in the civil rights movement in Mississippi.” She joined many civil rights groups as a direct result of the death of Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old African American boy who was brutally murdered in 1955.

Moody, however, eventually grew frustrated with the movement’s lack of progress and began writing about the civil rights struggle in her autobiography, Coming of Age in Mississippi. Beautifully told from a child’s perspective, the book was highly praised and led to her writing the short story “New Hopes for the Seventies” as well as a short story collection titled Mr. Death.

Facts and Trivia

  • Anne Moody participated in both the Woolworth luncheon sit-in and the march on Washington where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
  • Moody attended Natchez Junior College on a basketball scholarship and later attended Tougaloo College on a full academic scholarship.
  • Moody became deeply involved in civil rights activities while in college.
  • Moody worked as a canvasser and church speaker for the NAACP and taught workshops on self-defense to demonstrators, all the while fearing for herself and her family’s safety.
  • Moody lived a very private life and didn't give interviews or make appearances.

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Biography

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Born Essie Mae Moody on September 15, 1940, near Centreville, Mississippi, Moody was the daughter of poor African-American sharecroppers. She was the oldest of nine children. Moody's father left the family when she was only a young child, and her mother supported the family through domestic and restaurant work.

Moody grew up in and around Centreville, where she attended segregated schools. Despite her impoverished circumstances, which led her to work from the fourth grade on, Moody was a good student. She won a basketball scholarship to Natchez Junior College and was in attendance from 1959 through 1961. She then won an academic scholarship to Tugaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi, and received a bachelor of science degree in 1964.

While at Tugaloo, Moody became an activist in the civil rights movement, maintaining involvement with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1963, she was one of three young people who staged a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter in Jackson. She also took part in the 1963 march on Washington, D.C.

Moody worked in Canton, Mississippi, for more than a year with CORE to register African-American voters. She faced threats of violence and also was put on the Ku Klux Klan's blacklist during this period. From 1964 through 1965, Moody served as the civil rights and project coordinator at Cornell University.

Becoming disenchanted with certain aspects of the civil rights movement, Moody moved to New York City, where she began to write her autobiography, Coming of Age in Mississippi, which was published in 1968. The book has received several national awards.

Aside from her autobiography, Moody has only published one other work, Mr. Death: Four Stories (1975). Moody has also worked as a counselor for the New York City Poverty Program.