Civil Rights Pioneer Anne Moody is Featured on the Mississippi Writers Path

Civil rights activist Anne Moody is now on the Mississippi Writers Trail (MWT) in Centerville. Their story is shared on an official marker on West Park Street North in the Louis Gaulden and Riquita Jackson Family Memorial Park across from the Kevin Poole Van Cleave Library.

Moody, who wrote Coming of Age in Mississippi and Mr. Death: Four Stories, was born and raised in Centerville. Both sides of the marker show a biographical sketch of her life as a civil rights activist and her work as a writer.

The unveiling ceremony was organized by Maggie Lowery, Cultural Program Manager for Visit Mississippi, and Felicia Williams, Councilor for Ward 1 in Centerville.

“I am honored to be part of the program this morning,” said Dr. Stuart Rockoff, executive director of the Mississippi Humanities Council. “The Mississippi Writers Trail celebrates the extraordinary literary heritage of our state. We are very proud of how great writers like Anne Moody have used their experiences in this sometimes difficult and complicated place to create profound art that moves readers around the world. “

Rockoff said Moody’s book influenced him, a white Texas man, on a personal level after reading it in graduate school.

“The book became widely distributed in universities because of its eloquent and invigorating truth about the experience of growing up in a society profoundly shaped or misshapen by white supremacy,” he said, noting that Moody grew up in a society the “predicted” was on the idea that white life is more important. “

According to Rockoff, Moody’s genius as a writer is how she got readers involved in their own experiences. “We see the world of Jim Crow Mississippi through their eyes,” he said. “And once we experience that, we are changed forever.”

Rockoff was one of several people who spoke during the ceremony. John Moore, who serves as Centerville Mayor Pro Tempore and Alderman of Ward 3, provided the invocation; Dr. Roscoe Barnes III, Chair of the Anne Moody History Project and Heritage Tourism Manager for Visit Natchez, provided the welcome. Barnes was previously a chaplain at the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility, the birthplace of the Anne Moody History Project.

Councilor Williams shared her remarks and facilitated the disclosure. Williams read Moody from the marker biographical sketch and described Moody as a heroine of the civil rights movement. In Coming of Age, she said, Moody “clearly and eloquently articulates what it was like to grow up in poverty, suffer racial discrimination and fight for social change as a civil rights activist.”

Moody died in 2015 at the age of 74. At the time of her death, she was living in Gloster, Miss. She will now join other famous writers such as Eudora Welty, Margaret Walker, Elizabeth Spencer, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Shelby Foote, Walker Percy and Ida B. Wells.

The message from the marker was first shared by Williams in December 2019. She had worked with Lowery to secure a place for his location. Funding for the project was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, Lowery said.

The unveiling ceremony was originally scheduled for March 31st but has been postponed due to COVID-19.

Lowery attended the recent ceremony with Kristen Brandt, art industry director for the Mississippi Arts Commission, and Marion Barnwell, a Mississippi historian. Some locals, including children, also attended the event.

The Mississippi Writers Trail is an initiative of the Mississippi Arts Commission in partnership with the Community Foundation for Mississippi, the Mississippi Book Festival, the Mississippi Humanities Council, Visit Mississippi, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Library Commission.

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