Moody wrote about her college life in her memoir, “Coming of Age in Mississippi.”
Civil rights pioneer and author Anne Moody will be inducted into the Tougaloo College National Alumni Association Hall of Fame Friday, October 13.
Moody grew up in Centreville. After completing high school in Woodville, she enrolled at Natchez College. She attended the school from 1959 to 1961 on a basketball scholarship before transferring to Tougaloo where she earned her degree in 1964.
While at Tougaloo College, she became a civil rights activist. Moody wrote about her college life in her memoir, “Coming of Age in Mississippi.” The book has remained in print since the first day it was published in December 1968. In addition to having been a bestseller, it has been translated into many languages. It has also been required reading over the years in colleges and high schools.
Moody once said she had planned to study medicine and become a doctor, but life had other plans. In a 1985 interview with Debra Spencer of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Moody said that as a pre-med student, she considered becoming a doctor in Centreville.
“When the hospital was segregated, they had very bad medical facilities for blacks and not any black doctors. I would be the one to take care of my people medically but then I realized even before we came to that point, you’ve gotta survive as a race. I mean you’ve gotta survive as a human being with dignity and with grace, and we didn’t have that.”
Moody said becoming “the only black doctor” in Centreville or Woodville would have been “prestigious” and “fantastic. However, instead of becoming a doctor, she said, “I became a fulltime civil rights worker making $25 a week.”
At Tougaloo, Anne met and worked with some of the most renowned people in the civil rights movement, which included Medgar Evers, NAACP’s first field secretary in Mississippi. In “Coming of Age,” she wrote, “A few weeks after I got involved with the Tougaloo chapter of the NAACP, they organized a demonstration at the state fair in Jackson. Just before it was to come off, Medgar Evers came to campus and gave a hearty speech about how ‘Jackson was gonna move.’”
Moody also became friends with Joan Trumpauer, a freedom rider. She and Trumpauer appear in the iconic photo of the Woolworth’s sit-in on May 28, 1963, in Jackson, where they were violently harassed and assaulted by a white mob. The photo shows the mob pouring sugar, ketchup and mustard on the heads of the activists.
It was during her time at Tougaloo that she also came to know civil rights workers James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman, who were tortured and murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in June 1964. In her interview with Spencer, Moody recalled, “The week before they disappeared, I was in Meridian. We were sitting on the church steps and talking. That’s the first time I had ever met them, and I really liked them. We were joking around. Just the week before they disappeared.”
Moody was so moved by the killings that when she tried to speak at a UAW convention, she became overcome with emotion. She wept and was unable to speak.
In addition to Moody, a 1964 graduate of Tougaloo, other honorees for the Hall of Fame will include the Honorable Shirley C. Byers, 1975 graduate; Dr. Jean D. Chamberlain, 1971 graduate; and Dr. Sandra C. Melvin, 1995 graduate. Moody, who died in Gloster in 2015 at the age of 74, will be honored posthumously.
She will be recognized at the event for her work in the field of communications. The Hall of Fame honor is presented to Tougaloo alumni “who have distinguished themselves through their dedication and commitment to their professions and Tougaloo College,” according to the association’s website.
Frances Jefferson, Moody’s sister, said she is looking forward to the event.
“I’m so proud that after fifty-nine years since her graduation, she’s finally given this honor in the Hall of Fame,” Jefferson said. “If she were alive today, I know she would be very happy about this recognition. It’s been a long time coming.”
Kerry Thomas, committee chairman for the association, said the banquet is a ticketed event that is open to the public. The event will be held in the Jackson Convention Complex located at 105 East Pascagoula Street. For tickets, donations and more information on the 2023 TCNAA Alumni Hall of Fame induction ceremony, visit here or send an email to email@example.com.