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Anne Moody is a former Civil Rights activist who penned the award-winning autobiography Coming of Age in Mississippi.
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Born on September 15, 1940, in the Centreville area of Mississippi, Anne Moody became a college student who engaged in Civil Rights work for groups like the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Her incisive 1968 autobiography, Coming of Age in Mississippi, became an award-winning work. She followed that up with the story collection Mr. Death in 1975.
"I realized that the universal fight for human rights, dignity, justice, equality and freedom is not and should not be just the fight of the American Negro or the Indians or the Chicanos. It's the fight of every ethnic and racial minority, every suppressed and exploited person, everyone of the millions who daily suffer one or another of the indignities of the powerless and voiceless masses."
"I came to see through my writing that no matter how hard we in the Movement worked, nothing seemed to change; that we made a few visible little gains, yet at the root, things always remained the same; and that the Movement was not in control of its destiny—nor did we have any means of controlling its destiny."
"In the beginning, I never really saw myself as a writer. I was first and foremost an activist in the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi."
Future writer Anne Moody was born Essie Mae Moody on September 15, 1940, near the town of Centreville in Mississippi's Wilkinson County. She was the eldest of several children. With her father leaving the family and her mother unable to make ends meet by herself, Moody started to earn income from work as early as the fourth grade.
She endured a tumultuous childhood, coming to fear the depths of hate as seen in the murder of Emmett Till and experiencing rampant prejudice in her own life, with racial tensions in her community rising and her cousin forced to flee the area. Though facing much emotional distress, Moody was a devoted and popular student and played on the basketball team while standing up to a harsh coach. She was eventually able to earn an athletic scholarship to the two-year Natchez Junior College and then earned an academic scholarship to Tougaloo College, graduating in 1964.
As a student, Moody became involved with the growing civil rights efforts, joining the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) as well as the NAACP and spearheading voter registration efforts, though her work affected her studies. She was a primary participant in a sit-in to desegregate the lunch counter of a local Woolworth's along with other demonstrations in Jackson, and later took part in the historic 1963 March on Washington.
Upon her college graduation, Moody worked at Cornell University as its civil rights project coordinator until 1965. She later moved to New York City and, though distancing herself from the movement, she published her autobiography in 1968, Coming of Age in Mississippi, detailing her rural childhood, including very difficult times with her family, and subsequent activism. The book earned raves upon its publication, including accolades from The Nation, The Chicago Tribune and Senator Ted Kennedy in The New York Times Book Review. Coming of Age... also won awards from the National Library Association and the National Council of Christians and Jews.
Moody followed up her debut several years later with the fiction collection Mr. Death: Four Stories, released in 1975. She earned another award from Mademoiselle for the story "New Hopes for the Seventies." She has since maintained a quiet life, working with anti-poverty initiatives in New York. She is also said to have been penning another book, The Clay Gully.
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