Prejudice is an evil in the society that traumatizes people and cause suffering of members of the society. The book Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody covers about nineteen years - from the time Anne is four years old until she becomes twenty three. The book is written from a personal experience; it is symbolic and it tells how the civil rights movement in America developed. Anne was born in 1940; her childhood name was Essie May. She was from Wilkerson County, which was an area where extremely poor people lived and it was full of racism (Barnwell, 17). The members of her family worked on plantations to earn a living, but eventually their father deserted them. Her mother had no choice but to seek a job as a maid in the white homes that were around. Ann also got a job as maid at a very tender age so as to boost the little income that the family had.
As the civil right movement was continuously growing in America, under the leadership of such notable figures as Martin Luther, so was Anne growing and slowly developing into an intelligent young lady. According to Marshall Cavendish Corporation, as Anne grew, she became aware of the racial differences and inequalities in her society, especially the way the blacks were treated. In 1955 Emmett Till was murdered and this was the first instance that she heard of NAACP; it is then that she felt she should join the civil right movement and work to overthrow those institutions in her society that oppressed the Americans of African origin.
Her mother Toosweet and other members of her family did not understand what Anne intends to achieve by joining the civil rights movement. By the time Anne was about to graduate from high school, this was in the late 1950’s, due to the gains that had been made so far by the members of the civil right movement across America on ending racial segregation against the black community, the government had heed to the pressure and begun building better learning institutions for the black community. Anne felt that this was not enough. She was convinced that the black community should not be duped but should continue their struggle until they achieved total equality with the whites and full integration into the American society. Because of the differences and misunderstandings between Anne and her family, they did not attend her college graduation ceremony. The way her family treated her, especially the way she became separated from others, is an act that is symbolic of those who choose to pursue the path of the civil rights movement. It was an inapprehensible break for the elder people and others who had been made by the society to believe that with the then state of affairs was nothing wrong. The experience was personally difficult and painful, especially for a young woman who was coming of age. The conflict between Anne and her own family is a huge issue in the book Coming of Age in Mississippi.
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Anne makes an attempt to question race and racism as real aspects in peoples’ lives and she does this by showing how the so called racial differences are arbitrary and absurd. When Anne was still a child, a lot of white people had been claiming publicly that the blacks were of inferior genes to white people. One of the notable events in the book Coming of Age is when Anne’s friends who were whites undressed for her to have a look at their private parts so as to have a better luck in life. Anne’s thinking is logical, as she sees no reason as to why they should be considered better than the black people. She also felt it to be arbitrary, since a lot of black people in her neighborhood had some white ancestry.
One crucial theme in the book is how prejudice can be destructive in the society. The society in the South is full of prejudice: there is a prejudice from the white people against black community, of the rich against the poor and of the black whose skin is lighter towards the blacks whose skin is darker (Dillard and Conley, 70). Anne in her society experienced all this forms of prejudice and it was a very painful experience. Actually although Anne was a victim of the prejudice, she also had a prejudice against the blacks who were light skinned and the white people as well. This prejudice is illustrated by her act of declining admission to join Tougaloo College, the institution where she joined the civil rights movement; she did not want to join the school as she felt it has a lot of students who were black with the light skin. Anne also did not trust her professors, mainly because most of them were white: she also did not believe Reverend King, mainly because she was a white from the South. It took time to begin to trust them - this was after meeting whites and light skinned blacks who did not have prejudice against others. Prejudice almost cost Anne a lot of good opportunities in her life, and almost converted her to a pessimistic individual (Haimowitz and Haimowitz, 39).
Prejudice has no space in the modern society; it has the destructive ability to destroy all societal values. The civil rights movements that Anne Moody and other individuals, such as Martin Luther King Jr., joined were meant to fight social prejudice and ensure equality for all. Anne, like other individuals who stood against racial prejudice, played her role in the elimination of this vice. And it is a one reason why today we as Americans can focus on the development of our country treating people of all races equally.
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