Coming of Age in Mississippi

by Anne Moody

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Questions and Answers The Movement: Chapters 22 – 30

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Study Questions
1. The more Anne participates in the civil rights movement, the more resistance she gets from her family. How does this affect her?

2. How is religion linked yet separate from the civil rights movement in communities where Anne is working?

3. Unlike Martin Luther King, Jr., who preached that the best way to counter violence and racism was with nonviolence Anne Moody asks if there is a point at which greeting repeated violence with nonviolence is foolish. Why does she wonder about this?

4. More than once, Anne compares the way blacks are treated to how the Nazis oppressed and victimized Jews in Europe. In what ways is the experience parallel?

5. Anne wonders at the end of the book if she has made a difference. In what ways has she succeeded in making a difference, and in what ways is it hard to tell if she has?

1. While she’s not surprised to receive letters from her family discouraging her from participating in civil rights work—and urging her to stay clear of Centreville—she ultimately feels sad at the loss of connection and their disapproval. Exhausted on her twenty-third birthday, she grows despondent about how her work has effected her family relations.

2. Depending on the minister and the church, the civil rights workers had unpredictable access to congregations in black churches, in part because of some ministers’ wish to avoid the movement. When Anne and others organized a plan to attend white churches, they were turned away in some, but welcomed in others—a ray of hope. However, when children were killed in a racist bombing of a black church in Alabama, Anne is traumatized that blacks are no longer even safe in a house of worship.

3. After attending the March on Washington where King and other luminaries spoke, Moody felt that while it was positive to inspire people’s “dream” of equality, she and others were too busy fighting near war-like conditions to practice nonviolence. After learning of the deaths of Medgar Evers and many other innocent blacks, her resolve to respond to violence with nonviolence weakened.

4. Southern cops rounded up blacks without provocation, often simply for congregating, and the police could freely accuse blacks of crimes or kill them at will. Politicians allowed police to intimidate, torture, starve, and mistreat blacks both in prison and in makeshift prison “camps”—such as the local fairgrounds. Writing in the decade after World War II ended, Moody and many others were likely very aware of the psychological tactics of the Nazi regime in Hitler’s Germany. Not surprisingly, one group that sent her office food and clothing was a synagogue in New York.

5. On the positive front, Anne has set an example for many other activists by working in one of the toughest parts of her state and also attracted many young activists to carry on her work. On the negative front, blacks still don’t have the vote or truly equal rights – but the work Anne and her organizations have done has shown that there is the political will to push for changes.

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