Anne Moody

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Moody in the 70s

Anne Moody (September 15, 1940 – February 5, 2015) was an American author who wrote about her experiences growing up poor and black in rural Mississippi, and her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement through the NAACP, CORE and SNCC. Moody fought racism and segregation from when she was a little girl in Centrevillle, Mississippi, and continued throughout her adult life around the American South.[1]


Moody, née Essie Mae Moody on September 15, 1940, was the oldest of eight children.[2] After her parents split up when she was aged five or six,[1] she grew up with her mother, Elmira aka Toosweet, in Centreville, Mississippi, while her father lived with his new wife, Emma,[1] in nearby Woodville. At a young age Moody began working for white families in the area, cleaning their houses and helping their children with homework for only a few dollars a week, while earning perfect grades in school and helping at Mount Pleasant church.[1] After graduating with honors from a segregated, all-black high school, she attended Natchez Junior College (also all black) in 1961[3] on a basketball scholarship.[1]

Moody then moved on to Tougaloo College on an academic scholarship, to earn a bachelor's degree. She became involved with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. After graduation, Moody became a full-time worker in the civil rights movement, participating in protests and a sit-in at a Woolworth's lunch counter in Jackson, when a mob attacked her, fellow student Joan Trumpauer, and Tougaloo professor John Salter, Jr.,[4] pouring flour, salt, sugar, and mustard on them,[5] as depicted in a Jackson Daily News photograph.[6] Two weeks after the sit-in, the Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers was assassinated outside his family home in Jackson.[7] She was arrested in Jackson, Mississippi for attempting to protest inside of a post office with 13 other protesters, including Joan Trumpauer, Doris Erskine, Jeanette King, Lois Chaffee.[1]

During Freedom Summer (1964), Moody worked for CORE in the town of Canton, Mississippi. In 1967, she married Austin Straus, a white man who was an NYU graduate student. In 1971, she gave birth to her son Sasha Strauss.[8] In 1972, her family moved to Berlin after receiving a full-time scholarship, and they remained there until 1974 when they returned to America. Upon her return, she wrote a sequel to her autobiography, entitled Farewell to Too Sweet, which covered her life from 1974 to 1984, and in a 1985 interview with Debra Spencer she spoke of writing other books of memoirs,[8] all of which remain unpublished. Moody was also involved in the anti-nuclear movement. She resettled in Mississippi in the early 1990s,[9] though never felt at ease there, according to her sister Adline Moody.[7]


On February 5, 2015, aged 74, Moody died at her home in Gloster, Mississippi,[9] under the care of her younger sister Adline Moody,[10] having suffered from dementia in recent years.[11]


Moody's autobiography, Coming of Age in Mississippi (1968), is acclaimed for its realistic portrayal of life for a young African American before and during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Her perspective of life in rural Mississippi is unique but not abnormal. Moody grew up in a household where her mother would suppress any idea of questioning the way things were or the concept of segregation.[1] The book has been published in seven languages[when?] and sold around the world.


After her divorce from Austin Straus in 1977, Moody delved into the Civil Rights Movement further. In 1969, Coming of Age in Mississippi received the Brotherhood Award from the National Council of Christians and Jews, and the Best Book of the Year Award from the National Library Association.[12]

In 1972, Moody worked as an artist-in-residence in Berlin. She went on to work at Cornell and in 1975, released a collection of short stories, titled Mr. Death: Four Stories[13] one of the stories, "New Hope for the Seventies", won the silver award from Mademoiselle magazine. Moody declined to make public appearances or grant interviews,[14] with one exception: the above-mentioned interview with Debra Spencer, in 1985.[8] Moody was absent from the spotlight during and after the civil rights movement, partly because she (like many people[who?]) needed time to heal from the physical and psychological wounds received during those efforts.[8] She lived in New York City, worked as a counselor for the New York City Poverty Program, and had been working on a book, The Clay Guilly, prior to her death.[12]


  • Coming of Age in Mississippi. New York: Dial Press. 1968. (Delta reprint, 2004, ISBN 978-0385337816). (non-fiction, autobiography)
  • Mr. Death: Four Stories. New York: Harper & Row. 1975. ISBN 978-0060243111.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Moody, Anne (1968). Coming of Age in Mississippi. Dial Press. pp. 1–424.
  2. ^ "Anne Moody, Mississippi civil rights activist, dies at 74". Retrieved 2015-11-18.
  3. ^ "Anne Moody". Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  4. ^ "The Leadership Lessons of Medgar Evers". We Shall Not Be Moved: The Jackson Woolworth's Sit-In and the Movement It Inspired. December 31, 2013.
  5. ^ Mitchell, Jerry (February 10, 2015). "Woolworth's sit-in activist Anne Moody, 74, dies". USA Today.
  6. ^ "Photo of Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in in Jackson, Mississippi, 28 May 1963, including Anne Moody". The Guardian. March 27, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Associated Press (February 7, 2015). "Anne Moody, Mississippi civil rights activist, dies at 74".
  8. ^ a b c d Spencer, Debra (February 19, 1985). "Transcript (74 pp.) of interview with Anne Moody" (PDF). Department of Archives & History Building. Jackson, Mississippi. p. 51. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 2, 2015. AU 76 OHP 403.
  9. ^ a b Langer, Emily (February 20, 2015). "Anne Moody: Civil rights activist who wrote about the hardship and violence she faced growing up in the Jim Crow South (obituary)". The Independent.
  10. ^ Mitchell, Jerry (February 7, 2015). "Anne Moody, author of 'Coming of Age in Mississippi', has died". The Clarion-Ledger.
  11. ^ Fox, Margalit (February 17, 2015). "Anne Moody, Author of 'Coming of Age in Mississippi,' Dies at 74". The New York Times.
  12. ^ a b "Anne Moody". University of Minnesota. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
  13. ^ Mr. Death: Four Stories. New York: Harper & Row. 1975. ISBN 978-0060243111.
  14. ^ "Anne Moody: A Biography". Retrieved November 21, 2011.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]