Coming of Age in Mississippi | Study Guide

Anne Moody

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Coming of Age in Mississippi | Part 3, Chapter 20 : College | Summary

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Summary

As Anne tries to learn more about Tougaloo, a friend tells her she's "too black" to succeed there—most students are wealthy and light skinned. Anne tries to enroll at L.S.U. in New Orleans, but worries about violence from white students at the integrated school.

At Tougaloo Anne is pleased to find several students have dark skin. She gathers a few other students to perform a tumbling act for the school talent show, and the audience loves it. She's nervous about the prospect of having white teachers. Her roommate Trotter reassures her most of the white teachers are from the North or Europe and not from the South. After a strong academic start, Anne becomes involved in a relationship and her grades drop. She soon breaks up with her boyfriend for not respecting her physical boundaries.

Trotter reveals she's secretary of the school's NAACP chapter and invites Anne to a meeting. Anne agrees to attend. She can't sleep thinking about the "killings, beatings, and intimidations" she witnessed in Centreville. Though she's worried about the consequences of joining the NAACP, she's wanted to join for a long time, and she knows she will.

Analysis

Discrimination continues to plague Anne's life. Her concern about attending classes with white students and white teachers is not a desire to segregate but a real fear of survival. Power hierarchies within the black community, based on skin tone and wealth, put her at a disadvantage.

But Anne's grown considerably. She's developed the social skills to make friends and speak confidently in front of crowds. She can freely discuss her anxieties with other black students, rather than being pressured to stay silent the way she was at home. She can advocate for herself in a romantic relationship. While she worried about keeping Keemp, she's unwilling to go back to Dave. Anne is building the skill set she'll need in her activist work.

Tragedies in Centreville have given Anne a sense of what joining the NAACP will cost her and her family. But she doesn't let fear drive her decision. The final sentence of the chapter—"I had wanted to for a long time"—is triumphant, showing Anne's sense of peace and commitment to organized activism.

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