Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody

Start Your Free Trial

Download Coming of Age in Mississippi Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Summary and Analysis The Movement: Chapters 22 – 30

New Characters
John Salter: The professor at Tougaloo who urges Anne to participate in sit-ins.

Reverend Ed King and Jeannette King: Organizers of groups church-visiting trying to integrate churches.

C. O. Chinn: A well-established black entrepreneur who runs a café in Canton.

Summary
This final section of Moody’s memoir opens during the winter of her senior year at Tougaloo, shortly before the NAACP annual convention is scheduled to take place in Jackson. Anne receives a letter from Mama discouraging her participation in civil rights activities and warning her she won’t be able to come back to Centreville if she keeps it up, noting that the police are asking questions and that during Anne’s last visit, Mama kept her inside for fear of what would happen to her in public. Instead of making Anne change her mind, though, the letter makes Anne angry and strengthens her convictions about the significance of her work. Anne realizes that her priorities have changed in fundamental ways, and she realizes how insulting her family’s lack of support is to her.

During her last week of school for the year, she participates in a Woolworth’s sit-in that is timed to coincide with a demonstration. The sit-in grows violent—with Anne and her co-participants verbally and physically abused and humiliated—but it is attention-getting, and that night Medgar Evers introduces her and her fellow activists. She had told Mama of her participation before the sit-in occurred, but her mother begged her not to participate. Again, Anne is distressed at her mother's inability to see the significance of the event. Yet, she also knows that she may have to let go of her family to some extent to do her work and that she might even endanger them in the process of doing it. “I had to live my life as I saw fit. I had made that decision when I left home,” she writes.

Anne works with activists to make demands of Jackson’s mayors, participates in marches, leads nonviolence workshops, and plays a role in demonstrations. She is among a large group of demonstrators arrested and taken to jails, where she observes that the white police are allowed to treat blacks with the same hostility Nazis treated Jews under Hitler’s regime.

Her family continues to write her and urge her to stop her activism, and this time her sister Adline joins in the letters. But Anne continues, despite the devastating news that Medgar Evers has been shot.

She and fellow activists go to white churches to see if they can peacefully attend side by side with white worshippers, but they are kicked out of some facilities. Finally, one congregation welcomes them, and Anne finally begins to feel that they are making progress.

During her twenty-second summer, she works for activist group CORE in Canton, Mississippi, on a well-known vote initiative. She meets the Chinns, a brave black family that runs a restaurant and supports Freedom House, a civil rights headquarters of sorts. But the voter drive is hard—blacks are hesitant to register and volunteer canvassers are hard to enlist. They lose funding due to low productivity, and five high school volunteers are injured when whites shoot buckshot at them, an event that reduces the high school volunteer corps she had established.

Exhausted by the failure, she gives a resigned but ultimately moving speech beseeching the black community to get more involved. But in the meantime, the Klan begins plotting against Freedom House. The volunteers hide in the surrounding area and witness the Klan coming, but the Klan doesn’t do anything because no one is inside. As C. O. Chinn gets more involved in civil rights, he begins to experience an unprecedented persecution from local police who had previously left him alone. He loses his liquor license, then his business, but keeps on working on the movement.

Anne travels with Reverend King and his wife to the March on Washington in August 1963, the summer when Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a...

(The entire section is 1,911 words.)