Questions for Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi
Please come to class prepared to discuss your answers to these questions.
1. When Moody was a child (with the nickname Essie Mae), how did she relate to whites in her town? What do you think was the significance of the incident at the movie theater in her life? (Chapters 1, 3, and 4).
2. How did Raymond attempt to find his economic good life? How successful was he? (Chapters 6 and 9)
3. Whom did Moody blame for the murder of Samuel O’Quinn? (Chapter 16)
4. List the ways in which whites enforced the system of racial segregation. How many different aspects of society were part of this system? (all chapters).
5. What did the food boycott at Natchez College reveal about Moody’s personality? (Chapter 19)
6. What were the various reasons SNCC had trouble getting people to attend their rallies and other events? (Chapter 21)
7. What did Moody think of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech? (Chapter 24)
8. How did Moody react to the church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama? (Chapter 25)
9. Do you think the ending of the book is optimistic or pessimistic? (Chapters 28 to 30)
1865: End of Civil War with the defeat of the southern Confederates.
1865: Passage of Thirteenth Amendment, which barred slavery in the United States.
1865: Start of “Reconstruction.” Northern troops occupy the south and promote “Reconstruction,” during which former slaves enjoy some political rights.
1868: Fourteenth Amendment passed, declaring that any person born in the United States shall be a U.S. citizen and guaranteeing all citizens “the equal protection of the laws” in every state.
1870: Fifteenth Amendment passed, prohibiting states from denying the right to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
1877: End of the Reconstruction period. As Northern troops leave, racist whites organize new state governments in the south, which gradually deny blacks the right to vote and create strict laws of racial segregation (e.g. whites-only schools, train cars, etc). This pattern of political disfranchisement and racial segregation is known as the Jim Crow system.
1896: The U.S. Supreme Court upholds Jim Crow segregation in the Plessy vs. Ferguson case. Homer Plessy, an African American, had sued a Louisiana train company for having whites-only and blacks-only train cars. Plessy lost, and the Court reaffirmed the system of Jim Crow segregation, using the notion that “separate but equal” facilities for different races did not violate the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.
1909: NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) formed. Composed mainly of middle-class blacks and whites, the NAACP focused on legal challenges to the Jim Crow system.
1940: Anne Moody born.
1943: CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) formed by white and blacks to pursue non-violent efforts for civil rights.
1955: Emmitt Till, 14 years old, killed in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white girl.
1957: SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) formed by black ministers in the south, focusing on non-violent protest. Martin Luther King, Jr. elected president.
1960: Black college students in Greensboro, N.C., staged a sit-in at the Woolworth’s counter. This sit-in movement led to the creation of SNCC (pronounced “Snick”), the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, an organization of black and white students.
1963: Medgar Evers, field secretary for the Mississippi NAACP, killed by a sniper.
1964: Despite efforts of SCLC and SNCC, only 6% of the black voting-age population in Mississippi is registered to vote.
1964-65: Passage of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and Voting Rights Act (1965) by Congress. The Civil Rights Act made it illegal to practice segregation in “public accommodations” such as bus stations, restaurants, and hotels. The Voting Rights Act banned literacy tests and other voting restrictions. It also authorized U.S. officials to monitor elections in states to prevent discrimination. By 1971, black voter registration in Mississippi increased from 6 to 60%.