Coming of Age in Mississippi
by Anne Moody
New York: Doubleday, 1968; Bantam Dell, 1992
432 pages | ISBN: 978-0-440-31488-2
Written without a trace of sentimentality or apology, this is an unforgettable personal story — the truth as a remarkable young woman named Anne Moody lived it. To read her book is to know what it is to have grown up black in Mississippi in the forties and fifties — and to have survived with pride and courage intact.
In this now classic autobiography, she details the sights, smells, and suffering of growing up in a racist society and candidly reveals the soul of a black girl who had the courage to challenge it. The result is a touchstone work: an accurate, authoritative portrait of black family life in the rural South and a moving account of a woman's indomitable heart.
Born to a poor couple who were tenant farmers on a plantation in Mississippi, Anne Moody lived through some of the most dangerous days of the pre-civil rights era in the South. The week before she began high school came the news of Emmett Till's lynching. Before then, she had "known the fear of hunger, hell, and the Devil. But now there was...the fear of being killed just because I was black." In that moment was born the passion for freedom and justice that would change her life.
An all-A student whose dream of going to college is realized when she wins a basketball scholarship, she finally dares to join the NAACP in her junior year. Through the NAACP and later through CORE and SNCC she has first-hand experience of the demonstrations and sit-ins that were the mainstay of the civil rights movement, and the arrests and jailings, the shotguns, fire hoses, police dogs, billy clubs and deadly force that were used to destroy it.
A deeply personal story but also a portrait of a turning point in our nation's destiny, this autobiography lets us see history in the making, through the eyes of one of the foot soldiers in the civil rights movement.
"Simply one of the best, Anne Moody's autobiography is an eloquent, moving testimonial to...courage." —Chicago Tribune
"A history of our time, seen from the bottom up, through the eyes of someone who decided for herself that things had to be changed...a timely reminder that we cannot now relax." —Senator Edward Kennedy, The New York Times Book Review
"Something is new here...rural southern black life begins to speak. It hits the page like a natural force, crude and undeniable and, against all principles of beauty, beautiful." —The Nation
"Engrossing, sensitive, beautiful...so candid, so honest, and so touching, as to make it virtually impossible to put down." —San Francisco Sun-Reporter
Text on this page adapted directly from the publisher's website for the book: Coming of Age in Mississippi