Type: Analysis
Pages: 3 | Words: 864
Reading Time: 4 Minutes

The book captures the life of the author, Anne Moody, from the age of four years to when she is twenty-three years old. The book gives details of what was going on for nineteen years. After winning their freedom in the Civil War, African Americans were assured of equality as was stipulated in the then new constitution. This has never happened as the federal government refused to enforce the constitution in the south leading to mistreatment of the blacks as second-class citizens. African Americans used to work in plantations to earn a living. They rented farms on which they farmed and paid for them using part of the proceeds from the harvest. Anne was born to a family experiencing dire poverty and racism in Wilkerson County in 1940. Her family had to work in the plantation farms to make ends meet. Her father left the family for another woman and her mother had to work as a waiter in cafes as well as a maid for white families to support Anne and her sister. Anne attended school but had to clean houses for the whites to help in supporting her family. Despite this, she became an exceptional student and won a scholarship to college. It is in the college where she joins the civil rights movement despite her family’s opposition and fights for rights of the blacks.

The major theme in this book is racism. Anne has to fight racism all her life. She struggles to understand what it is and how different the whites are from blacks from an early age. She shows how absurd racism is, for instance, by undressing her childhood white friends in a bid to see if their genitalia, the only body part of a white she had not seen before, was the one holding the difference between the whites and the blacks. Mrs. Burke, just like most other whites, is a racist who makes life for Anne difficult while she works for her. Racism was really bad for the blacks. For example, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy, was brutally killed.

Another theme that is widely highlighted in this autobiography is prejudice. There is prejudice by the whites against the blacks, prejudice of the lighter-skinned blacks against those who are darker-skinned and prejudice of those with money against those who are poorer. Anne moves out of her mother’s new family with Raymond to live with her father and his new wife Emma who, together with her family, does not hold herself better than others just because she is lighter skinned. Her environment held whites as different from blacks. The whites had separate services, like in the case at Trailways bus depot which had a section marked “Whites only”. Prejudice made Anne herself prejudiced; she almost refused to attend Tougaloo College where she thinks were too many lighter skinned blacks.

Brutal murder of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till marked the turning point in Anne’s life since it made her realize the extent of racism and how far the whites can go to ensure they protect their way of life as the superior race as well as helplessness of the blacks to fight this. Her family feared to fight against racism and could not even tell her what “NAACP” meant, let alone encourage her to join the Civil Rights Movement. They opposed it. Most blacks do not associate themselves with illegal Civil Rights Movement at this time. In fact, Anne is discouraged by all the adults whenever she asks for information on the role and state of relations of her race in Mississippi. She was told to shut up when she tried to enquire about how Emmett Till was killed.

The author maintains the same attitude just as she had it when she participated in the Civil Rights Movement. In fact, at the release of the book, she says she wrote the book as an activist rather than a writer. This is because she is black and experienced what exactly blacks experience in the racist environments. This is also the view held by young people who participate in the Civil Rights Movement.

Anne Moody, in writing her book, wanted the world to know how difficult it was for an individual to grow up in Mississippi as a black and experience the racism that was there. She shows how the whites forced the African Americans to be second-class citizens who were so afraid and helpless in defending their right for equality. Racism, prejudice, class, and power of the blacks are some of the issues that Anne clearly and emphatically brings out in her book. She does, however, fail to show how helpless the people were in their quest for equality as well as extent of their fear.

I like Anne Moody’s book because it is a life-changing book. As you read it, you are drawn into a personal reflection of the work. It is Anne’s experience with life and how she helped bring positive change. I feel I can also change negative things in my society. This is a book that I could definitely recommend to anyone, especially the young people so that they get inspiration. If I met Anne Moody, I would like to know what happened to her.

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