Anne Moody

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Anne Moody (September 15, 1940 – February 5, 2015) was an African-American author who wrote about her experiences growing up poor and black in rural Mississippi, 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 Centerville, Mississippi and continued throughout her adult life around the South.[1]


Born Essie Mae Moody on September 15, she was the oldest of eight children.[2] After her parents split up when she was 5 or 6 years old,[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 she 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] under a basketball scholarship.[1]

Then she 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 lunchcounter in Jackson, when a mob attacked her, fellow student Joan Trumpauer and Tougaloo professor John Salter Jr, pouring flour, salt, sugar and mustard on top of them,[4] as depicted in a Jackson Daily News photograph.[5] Two weeks after the sit-in, the Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers was assassinated outside his family home in Jackson.[6] She was arrested in Jackson, Mississippi for attempting to protest inside of a post office with 13 other protesters, including Joan Tumpauer, Doris Erskine, Jeanette King, Lois Chaffee.[1]

During Freedom Summer, she worked for CORE in the town of Canton. In 1967 she married a white man who was an NYU graduate student. In 1971 she gave birth to her son Sasha Strauss.[7] In 1972 her family moved to Berlin after she received 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,[7] all of which remain unpublished. She was also involved in the anti-nuclear movement. She resettled in Mississippi in the early 1990s,[8] though never felt at ease there according to her sister Adline Moody.[6]


She died at her home in Gloster, Mississippi,[8] under the care of her younger sister Adline Moody at the age of 74 on February 5, 2015,[9] having suffered from dementia in recent years.[10]


Her autobiography Coming of Age in Mississippi 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 a unique one but not an abnormal one. She grew up in a household where her mother would suppress any idea of questioning the way things were or the concept of segregation.[1] It has been published in seven languages and sold around the world.[citation needed]


After her divorce from Austin Straus in 1967, she 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.[11]

In 1972 she worked as an artist-in-residence in Berlin. She went on to work at Cornell University and sold a collection of short stories in 1975, one of which, "New Hope for the Seventies", won the silver award from Mademoiselle magazine. She declined to grant interviews or make public appearances,[12] but she did do an interview in 1985.[7] Her being absent from the spotlight during and after the Civil Rights Movement was partly because she and many people, needed time to heal from the physical and psychological wounds that she got in this time of her life.[7] She lived in New York City and worked as a Counselor for the New York City Poverty Program. She had been working on a book, The Clay Guilly, prior to her death.[11]


  • Coming of Age in Mississippi (non-fiction, autobiography) (New York: Dial Press, 1968). Delta reprint, 2004, ISBN 978-0385337816.
  • 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 20 April 2015
  4. ^ Jerry Mitchell, "Woolworth's sit-in activist Anne Moody, 74, dies", USA Today, February 10, 2015.
  5. ^ Photo of Woolworth's lunchcounter sit-in in Jackson, Mississippi, 28 May 1963, including Anne Moody. The Guardian, March 27, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Associated Press, "Anne Moody, Mississippi civil rights activist, dies at 74",, February 7, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d Debra Spencer, Transcript (74 pp.) of interview with Anne Moody, p. 51; Department of Archives & History Building, Jackson, Mississippi, February 19, 1985, AU 76 OHP 403.
  8. ^ a b Emily Langer, "Anne Moody: Civil rights activist who wrote about the hardship and violence she faced growing up in the Jim Crow South" (obituary), The Independent, February 20, 2015.
  9. ^ Jerry Mitchell, "Anne Moody, author of 'Coming of Age in Mississippi', has died", The Clarion-Ledger, February 7, 2015.
  10. ^ Margalit Fox, "Anne Moody, Author of ‘Coming of Age in Mississippi,’ Dies at 74", The New York Times, February 17, 2015.
  11. ^ a b "Anne Moody". University of Minnesota. Retrieved May 6, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Anne Moody: A Biography",; accessed November 21, 2011.

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