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Commentary on Coming of Age in Mississippi Essay


Coming of Age In Mississippi

In Coming of Age in Mississippi you get to experience quite a bit of Anne Moodys life. It puts a new light on the Mississippi experience during the early to mid twentieth century. There are many different points in Annes life where she experiences racism and segregation. Anne Moodys life is an amazing testimony of an African American living in Mississippi. From being raised in a family where they dont want to speak of the unfair events to schools where if you speak of them you are fired. All these things shaped Anne Moody to become who she was and is.

Coming of Age in Mississippi is about a young African American girl and her experiences in a town in the state of Mississippi. The story begins with Essie Mae being a little girl and her family living on a plantation. During the day while her parents are working Essie is being taken care of by her uncle ? George Lee. George Lee set the house on fire one day and blamed it all on Essie Mae. Soon after the fire and the death of a close friend little things start to upset Mr. Moody. You then find out that he is having an affair with the window of his friend ? who is named Florence. At this same time Essie Maes mom is pregnant with her third child. The child is born and it is a son that she names Junior. After Junior is born Essie Maes mother and the three children leave and move in with Great- Aunt Cindy. They were only allowed to stay with Cindy until Mama found a new job. Essies mother started working at a caf in town. The family was able to live in a house Mrs. Cook owned ? only if Mama would help clean on her day off. Essie Mae turned five soon after moving into that house and started school. During that summer Essie Mae realized that her mothers stomach was starting to get large again. Her mother had another child and she named in James. Essie Mae met the father of the child and she realized that they had lighter skin and she called his and his family yellow people. The fathers name was Raymond. Raymonds mother ? Miss Pearl said Essie Maes mother couldnt take care of all those children so she took James. You find out that Miss Pearl also doesnt like Essie Maes mother cause she is a darker black then Miss Pearl. At the age of nine Essie Mae got her first job. She was paid seventy five cents and two gallons of milk a week. Essie Mae found out that the milk she was earning was the same milk the cats were drinking ? so her mother wanted her to quit. Essie didnt want to quit because she felt that she was helping the family ? but soon her mother convinced her to. The woman that Essies mother was working for ? Mrs. Johnson ? got Essie Mae a new job. This job Essie Mae was working for a Mrs. Claiborne. Mrs. Claiborne paid Essie Mae three dollars a week. Mr. Claiborne and Mrs. Claiborne learned to love Essie and let her eat meals with them at their table. Essie Maes mother didnt approve of Essie Mae eating at the same table with the Claibornes. At the end of the summer the family moved in to a house that Raymond had built for them ? and Raymond came and moved in with them. Essie is now at Willis High ? and she is the tallest girl her in class. Essie is getting straight As and playing basketball. Essie starts working for a woman named Linda Jean. Linda Jean treats Essie has a friend and Linda Jeans mother doesnt like that. Essie finds out that her birth certificate actually says that her name is Annie Mae. At first her mother doesnt want her going by that name but accepts it so Essie changes to Annie. Annie starts working for Linda Jeans mother whose name is Mrs. Burke. Annie finds out about the NAACP and asks one of her teachers about it. Her teacher tells her not to say a word about it to anyone. A few weeks later that teacher gets fired. Annie starts to tutor Mrs. Burkes son whose name is Wayne. Wayne became fond of Anne and Mrs. Burke is furious about this. Mrs. Burke started having guild meetings at her house which we find out is to be a racist organization. During her senior year her county was picked to have one of the separate but equal schools built. After she graduated she started her college career at Natchez College. At Natchez she had her first experience of really leading a group of students. After attending Natchez College she received a scholarship to go to Tougaloo. At Tougaloo Annie met Trotter which later on she finds out is the secretary of the campus chapter of the NAACP. The following summer after getting involved with the NAACP ? Anne had a white girl move across the hall from her named Joan Trumpauer. Joan worked for the SNCC has a secretary. Joan and Annie started going to the Delta every other weekend to canvass for a voter registration. Annie participates in many sit-ins ? including one at the Woolworth in Jackson. The Woolworth sit in was all of the newspapers around the country. Anne later signs up to work for an organization called CORE. While she works for core she works in Madison County in the town of Canton. In Canton ? she and the people she works with are threatened quite a bit. Anne tries to get high school students involved in the cause ? she soon realizes that it is going to be very hard for Mississippi to change by itself. The reason Anne believes that is because every time there is a threat the African Americans start to hide again. Anne moves to New Orleans for a little while to take a break from the cause and she lives with her sister. Soon Anne realizes no matter where she lives she wants to be involved. The memoir ends with Anne going back to Mississippi and she ends up living with a group to Washington D.C.

Anne Moodys experience in a segregated Mississippi started the day she was born. Annie was born to a mother and father that worked on a plantation as share croppers. When Annie was seven her mom started working for a white family named the Johnsons ? The Johnsons let the Moodys live on their land. Annie found it to be some kind of honor to be the only African Americans to live on that street (32). As of Annies second job she knew that if someone while people could treat her like she was one of them why couldnt the rest. When Annie started worked for Mr. and Mrs. Claiborne ? the Claiborne couple realized the main reason Annie was working was to keep food on her familys table. Mrs. Claiborne was a teacher at a local high school and was interested in how Annie did in school. Annie was a straight A student and so the Claibornes realized how smart of a girl she was. They liked her so much that they let her eat dinner with them whenever she was there for a meal. There is another couple that Annie worked for that treated her like she was an equal. When Annie starting working for Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins she found out they were also a really nice couple. Mrs. Jenkins told Annie to call her by her first name which is Linda Jean. One day Linda Jeans mom walks in and hears Essie Mae calls Linda Jean by her first name. Mrs. Burke gets so angry she scolds Annie Mae. Later on in the novel Annie Mae actually starts to work for Mrs. Burke. While Annie is working for Mrs. Burke ? Emmitt Till is murdered. When Annie asks her mom about the killing her mom told her never to bring it up at work in front of Mrs. Burke. When she goes to work that day Mrs. Burke brings it up and makes it seems like she is telling Annie she better be careful of how she acts. A few days after that while Annie is at work she hears some women that are over for tea talk about the NAACP. Annie had never heard of the NAACP before so the next day when Annie goes to school she ask her teacher Mrs. Rice about the NAACP. Mrs. Rice invites her over to her house but ask Annie not to tell anyone about the things she told her for fear of being fired. A few weeks later Mrs. Rice is fired. At this point this next quote shows you how Annie Mae felt about African Americans But I also hated Negroes. I hated them for not standing up and doing something about the murders. In fact ? I think I had a stronger resentment toward Negroes for letting the whites kill them than toward the whites.(136) This quote shows that Annie is starting to think for herself and cant stand that no one will stand up for themselves. Later on a killing actually happens near her house. She was fifteen years old when this happened. She woke up to screaming one night and so she went in to the main room to see what was happening. Well her stepfather ? her mother ? and she went up the road to see what is happening. There are so many cars and people that they cant find out what are happening so they ask a friend. They find out that a family of about ten people was burned in their house and died. This shocks Annie and she knows she doesnt want to go to work the next day. Her mother makes her go to work where Mrs. Burke has a son named Wayne. Wayne is the same age as Annie. Mrs. Burke asks Annie Mae how she is in math. Annie Mae tells her that she gets straight As and so Mrs. Burke asks for help. Annie starts to tutor a group of about five white students including Wayne in math. Annie realizes that she can be smarter than white people and that they really arent that different then her. Annie realizes that Wayne is becoming quite fond of her. Mrs. Burke also realizes this and will not tolerate it. Mrs. Burke cancelled the tutoring sessions so they wouldnt have that time together. Annie knows this isnt fair to her so she decides she has to quit her job. While Annie is working at the Burke house she says this following quote The dining room in Mrs. Burkes house had come to mean many things to me. It symbolized hatred ? love ? and fear in many variations. (163) That dining room had been where she served the Burkes ? tutored Wayne and his friends and where the Guild meetings were held. A few chapters later in the novel Wilkinson County became one of the counties in Mississippi to get a new separate but equal school ? it was to be opened the year after Annie graduated. But Annies graduating class and the classes from all the other Wilkinson County schools held a joint graduation there that spring.

were bragging about how good the white folks were to give us such a big beautiful school ? I was thinking of how dumb we were to accept it. I knew that the only reason the white folks were being so nice was that they were protecting their own schools. Our shiny new school would never be equal to any school of theirs. All we had was a shiny new empty building where they always had the best teachers ? more state money? ? and better equipment.(230)

Annie has realized for a while now that the government may say that things are separate but equal ? but they definitely arent equal. All of these experiences raised Anne Moody to become who she was and what she did for the cause. Anne Moody was not like the majority of African Americans in the south ? because she was not afraid to be threatened or worse to change lives. Even though Annie had her moments where she thought things would never change she just couldnt give up.

Anne Moody over came adversity and is an amazing woman. She did not want to be like every one she knew and she wanted equal rights for African Americans. She wasnt willing to give up in what she believed in ? and she changed many peoples lives for what she did.

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