Coming of Age in Mississippi

by Anne Moody

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Why did Anne Moody become disillusioned with the Civil Rights Movement by 1963?

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Anne Moody became disillusioned with the Civil Rights Movement in 1963 by witnessing the hopelessness of the rural African Americans in Mississippi.

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Anne has been working as a CORE volunteer registering people to vote in Madison County in rural Mississippi. In her work, she sees firsthand the fear that prevents some African Americans from voting, and she also understands their desperation. She feels that the leaders, such as Martin Luther King, do...

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not understand the reality on the ground. Many of the people in rural Mississippi are so poor that they aren't concerned about voting; they are instead concerned simply with survival and where their next meal is coming from. They also struggle to buy clothing to wear.

Anne attends the March on Washington in 1963 in which Dr. Martin Luther King gives his famous "I Have a Dream Speech." She thinks that "in Canton we never had time to sleep, much less dream" (335). In other words, the lives of rural African Americans in Mississippi are so difficult that they can't afford to think about the loftier goals of the movement. The leaders of the movement are distanced from this reality, and she feels that they are out of touch.

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Anne Moody becomes disillusioned with the civil rights movement primarily because she thinks its leadership is out of touch with African Americans. The main emphasis of the civil rights movement is to get people to come out and vote; Anne Moody herself actively participates in the voter drive with CORE. Yet, at the same time, the leaders of the movement don't seem to appreciate just how hard it is for many African Americans to stick their heads above the parapet and actively come out to vote. It takes a lot of courage in such a deeply racist society to show yourself as actively participating in the democratic process.

Anne's also deeply critical of what she sees as the civil rights movement's neglect of bread-and-butter issues such as jobs, housing, and social welfare. The right to vote is incredibly important, but so too is the ability to put food on the table and clothes on your back. In her work for CORE, Anne notices that her office is regularly deluged with people looking for free clothing. This confirms her belief that poverty is the main problem facing African Americans, one that isn't adequately being addressed by what she calls the "dreamers" in charge of the civil rights movement.

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