What do you think?
Rate this book
424 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1968
“Now talk to me, God. Come on down and talk to me. You know, I used to go to Sunday school, church, and B.T.U. every Sunday. We were taught how merciful and forgiving you are. Mama used to tell us that you would forgive us twenty-seven times a day and I believed in you. I bet you those girls in Sunday school were being taught the same as I was when I was their age. Is that teaching wrong? Are you going to forgive their killers? You not gonna answer me, God, hmm? Well if you don’t want to talk, then listen to me. As long as I live, I’ll never be beaten by a white man again. Not like in Woolworth’s. Not anymore. That’s out. You know something else, God? Nonviolence is out. I have a good idea Martin Luther King is talking to you too. If he is, tell him that nonviolence has served its purpose. Tell him that for me, God, and for a lot of other Negroes who must be thinking it today. If you don’t believe that, then I know you must be white, too. And if I ever find out you are white, then I’m through with you. And if I find out you are black, I’ll try my best to kill you when I get to heaven.”
I thought of Reverend Dupree and his family who had been run out of Woodville when I was a senior in high school, and all he had done was to get up and mention NAACP in a sermon. The more I remembered the killings, beatings, and intimidations, the more I worried about what might happen to me or my family if I joined the NAACP. But I knew I was going to join, anyway. I had wanted to for a long time.
I sat there listening to “We Shall Overcome,” looking out the window at the passing Mississippi landscape. Images of all that had happened kept crossing my mind: the Taplin burning, the Birmingham church bombing, Medgar Evers’ murder, the blood gushing out of McKinley’s head, and all the other murders. I saw the face of Mrs. Chinn as she said, “We ain’t big enough to do it by ourselves,” C.O.’s face when he gave me that pitiful wave from the chain gang. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.
Written without a trace of sentimentality or apology, this is an unforgettable personal story – the truth as a remarkable young woman named Anne Moody lived it. To read her book is to know what it is to have grown up black in Mississippi in the forties and fifties – to have survived with pride and courage intact.
In the now classic autobiography, she details the sights, smells, and suffering of growing up in a racist society and candidly reveals the soul of the black girl who had the courage to challenge it. The result is a touchstone work: an accurate, authoritative portrait of black family life in the rural South and a moving account of a woman’s indomitable heart.
I recently read Kathryn Stockett’s The Help and while I enjoyed this story tremendously, I wanted to read something that was less uplifting, more realistic, and told from the perspective of an African-American. Anne Moody’s powerful memoir was the perfect choice.
This is a well-told and fascinating story about the author's life growing up in rural Mississippi, and her fight against racism. Her story is chronologically told, from the author's youth in rural Mississippi, her education, family relationships, poverty, racism, violence and finally, her involvement with the Civil Rights Movement.
The more I thought about it, the more it seemed that the federal government was directly or indirectly responsible for most of the segregation, discrimination, and poverty in the South.I've noticed a tendency towards One Memoir to Rule Them All when it comes to times of turmoil, whether 1960's US civil rights or the Shoah or Guantanamo Bay. Thus, it is likely an uncomfortable shock for some to realize that there aren't only multiple survivors of German concentration camps living in their country, but that they mostly live in poverty, and aren't nearly as safely tucked away in death or international recognition as readers of "Schindler's List" would like to think. Brutal as recently reviewed Twelve Years a Slave is, its story happened long ago, and it isn't nearly as uncomfortably familiar as the 1940s-1960s events of Mississippian Anne Moody, what with its former slave catcher and now military industrial complex cops and questions of blackness, gender, blackness and gender, nonviolent protest, active resistance, gun use, gun control, federal vs state, federal hand in hand with state, the KKK (still legal, by the way), government conspiracies, education, child labor, and other singularly US twists on the concept of your money or your life. This isn't a happy read by far, but it is a true one, and it gives the reader no sense of "progress" being anything more than the long, hard, depression inducing, terrorized slog that it is. If, upon reading this, you can stand to call the US police force anything other than the most powerful terrorist organization ever known. you are a liar and a fool.
"As long as I live, I'll never be beaten by a white man again. Not like in Woolworth's. Not any more. That's out. You know something else, God? Nonviolence is out. I have a good idea Martin Luther King is talking to you, too. If he is, tell him that nonviolence has serve its purpose. Tell him that for me, God, and for a lot of other Negroes who must be thinking it today. If you don't believe that, then I know you must be white, too. And if I ever find out you are white, then I'm throughout with you. And if I find out you are black. I'll try my best to kill you when I get to heaven.
By the time we got to Lincoln Memorial, there were already thousands of people there. I sat on the grass and listened to the speakers, to discover we had "dreamers" instead of leaders leading us. Just about every one of them stood up there dreaming. Martin Luther King went on and on talking about his dream. I sat there thinking that in Canton [where Moody did the bulk of her activism] we never had time to sleep, much less dream.