I think Coming of Age in Mississippi does a great job of showing the progression of the African American race. There was definitely a generation gap between Anne and her mom. Her mom had the “old negro” mentality. The Federal government had basically opened the door for whites to terrorize blacks into second hand citizenship by ruling segregation constitutional in the Plessy v. Ferguson case. Jim crow laws ruled the south. Her mom grew up in the South where whites terrorized blacks, and there were certain things blacks didn’t do. As a black person living in the Jim Crow South, you didn’t talk back to white people, you didn’t discuss topics such as NAACP or Civil Rights movement among some whites, and you didn’t go into areas where black people weren’t allowed. If blacks did these things there would usually be consequences for their actions such as being lynched, beaten, shot, or burned to death. The civil rights movement was going on during Anne’s teenage years and many black youths were participating in the movement. A lot of the parents didn’t want there kids participating in the marches and sit ins in fear of something bad happening to them. The new generation was more outspoken and less fearful of whites, than the older generation.
Historians could also use this book for insight on racism in the South. A Historian could also use this book as a great source about the life of poor blacks in the South. The book itself in my opinion is a great primary source. Anne describes the white and black people’s reaction to the Emmett Till Murder, Jim Crow Laws, the civil rights movement including the sit ins, the different organizations such as CORE and the NAACP, life on college campuses during the civil rights movement and much more. Overall this is a very detailed account of life growing up in the Jim Crow south. I amazed at how much Anne can remember from her childhood. The book starts when she is at the age of 4. Knowing this gave me the impression that there was a lot going on during that era. Most adults don’t remember much from their childhood unless it was something memorable or life changing.