This essay offers a close reading of Anne Moody’s widely read but under-theorized memoir of the civil rights movement, Coming of Age in Mississippi (1968). This essay’s focus mirrors a main focus in Moody’s narrative: her relationship with her mother. Much of the body of literary criticism, as well as historical writings dealing with African American mother-daughter conflict, centers on the observation that Black mothers have often found themselves in conflict with daughters whom they seek to protect by schooling them in accommodationist behavior to better survive in the face of white racism and violence. To strand the analysis there, however, leaves one unable to understand the historically specific nature of the acute generational conflict between Moody and her mother and leaves one without structural explanation for young people’s unprecedented involvement in the 1950s–1960s civil rights movement. This article explores Anne Moody’s daughterly point of view as expressed in her writing to understand why and how Anne was able to develop a distinct sense of self and consciousness, one that alienated her from her mother and laid the groundwork for her activist leadership as well as that of her generational cohort.

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