Organizing that Changed Mississippi
Book Review of Salter Jr.'s "Jackson Mississippi" and Moody's "Coming of Age in Mississippi"
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/01/2014
Year Published: 2014
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20349
A review of two books about the Mississippi's civil rights movement in 1965 from the perspectives of an African-American female student and a Native American male professor.
The two memoirs reviewed here vividly remind us that the 1963 March on Washington, and the Freedom Rides and Sit-Ins preceding it, were not just events that happened spontaneously as impatient protests against gross injustice in the South. They were products of tremendous efforts over many years of deep organizing.
Anne Moody's autobiography, Coming of Age in Mississippi, tells her own story of growing up near Centreville, on the county line between Wilkinson and Amite counties in southwestern Mississippi. Born in 1940, Moody candidly recounts in plain language the suffering of growing up in a racist society during the forties and fifties, not unlike the lives of hundreds of thousands of other African-American women in the South.
She did not give in, but mounted her own effort of defiant survival. Moody enrolled at Tougaloo College where, at that moment, students were beginning to participate in events led by Medgar Evers and the NAACP. She joined the effort.
John Salter's account, Jackson, Mississippi: An American Chronicle of Struggle and Schism, meets Anne Moody's story as they both enter Tougaloo, she as a student, he as an American government professor.
Salter, a Native American, is also known as Hunter Gray. His father was a Wabanaki Indian from the far Northeast. Salter grew up in Arizona, where his parents through their actions instilled in him a passion for justice. Watching the struggles in the South from afar, he jumped at the opportunity to teach at Tougaloo and learn from the movement building in Mississippi.