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Anne Moody, from Coming of Age in Mississippi
September 1962

In mid-September I was back on campus. But didn’t very much happen until February when the NAACP held its annual convention in Jackson. They were having a whole lot of interesting speakers: Jackie Robinson, Floyd Patterson, Curt Flood, Margaretta Belafonte, and many others. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. I was so excited that I sent one of the leaflets home to Mama and asked her to come.

Three days later I got a letter from Mama with dried-up tears on it, forbidding me to go to the convention. It went on for more than six pages. She said if I didn’t stop that shit she would come to Tougaloo and kill me herself. She told me about the time I last visited her, on Thanksgiving, and she had picked me up at the bus station. She said she picked me up because she was scared some white in my hometown would try to do something to me. She said the sheriff had been by, telling her I was messing around with that NAACP group. She said he told her if I didn’t stop it, I could not come back there any more. He said that they didn’t need any of those NAACP people messing around in Centreville. She ended her letter by saying that she had burned the leaflet I sent her. “Please don’t send any more of that stuff here. I don’t want nothing to happen to us here,” she said. “If you keep that up, you will never be able to come home again.”

Copyright © 1968 by Anne Moody.  Selected from the Library of America anthology.  See  Reporting  Civil  Rights:  American Journalism 1941-1963.