Coming of Age in Mississippi

by Anne Moody

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Masterplots II: African American Literature Coming of Age in Mississippi Analysis

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 273

Moody’s conflicting emotions during these turbulent years led to a level of dissatisfaction and intolerance that flavored most of her contacts. She hated whites for their violence and close-mindedness but was equally distressed by African Americans who succumbed to fear, behaving as whites would have them behave, going along, and suffering injustice. Lukewarm responses to African American voter registration drives left her feeling hopeless and may have been the driving force in her decision to leave the movement.

She had wanted her community to fight back, face its oppressors, and stand up to club-wielding officers and snarling dogs. She may have been too young and idealistic to understand what lengths parents will go to in order to protect their children, preferring them outwardly subservient to dead. She declared that the African American populace was like a slathering dog on a strong leash. It could bark, sometimes bite, but ultimately it was under the control of the master.

She also wondered where the movement was heading. The ministers appeared to be running scared, the leadership unable to provide solid direction. They all spoke from their middle-class backgrounds, not addressing the people she knew. She wanted to see practical steps taken to change the plight of sharecroppers. She wanted to help them buy the land that was rightfully theirs and not have to look to whites for handouts. In the end, Moody concluded that the Civil Rights movement was too narrowly defined, that all people of all races and backgrounds, all minority groups, needed to be guaranteed the rights granted them in the Constitution through the enforcement of the laws already on the books.

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