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"essie Mae" Struggles of a Black Woman from Mississippi

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"Essie Mae" Struggles of a Black Woman from Mississippi

In the young life of Essie Mae, she had a rough childhood. She went through beatings from her cousin, George Lee, and was blamed for burning down her house. Finally Essie Mae got the nerve to stand up for herself and her baby sister, Adline as her parents were coming in from their work. Her dad put a stop to the mistreatment by having her and her sister watched by their Uncle Ed. One day while Essie Mae's parents were having an argument, she noticed that her mothers belly was getting bigger and bigger and her mom kept crying more and more. Then her mother had a baby, Junior, while the kids were out with their Uncle Ed. Her uncle took her to meet her other two uncles and she was stunned to learn that they were white. She was confused by this but when she asked her mom, Toosweet, about it her mom would not give her an answer one way or the other. Once her mom had the baby, her father started staying out late more often. Toosweet found out that her dad was seeing a woman named Florence. Not long after this, her mother was left to support her and her siblings when her father left. Her mother ended up having to move in with family until she could obtain a better paying job in the city. As her childhood went on she started school and was very good at her studies. When she was in the fourth grade, her mom started seeing a soldier named Raymond. Not too long after this, her mother got pregnant and had James. Her mother and Raymond had a rocky relationship. When James was born, Raymond's mother came and took the baby to raise because she said that raising four children was too much of a burden for a single parent to handle. Raymond went back to the service for a while but then when he came back he and Toosweet had another baby. Raymond's brothers helped him build a new house for them to live in and they brought James back to live with them. During this time Essie Mae was working for the Claiborne family and she was starting to see a different point of view on a lot of things in life. The Claiborne's treated her almost as an equal and encouraged her to better herself. Toosweet had another baby right before Essie Mae went into the seventh grade. Toosweet and Raymond finally got married right before this baby was born. In the eighth grade Essie Mae was elected homecoming queen. Her father bought her a wonderful new dress and her mother didn't recognize her until she waved. During the preparation for the homecoming festivities, Essie Mae had to provide her birth certificate. Toosweet sent off for a copy since the original had burned in a house fire and when it came back everything was correct except for the name. The name on the certificate was Annie Mae Moody. Toosweet sent it back but it came back the same way and she would have had to pay a fee to have the name corrected. Instead of doing this, she let Essie change her name to Annie. Annie started working for Mrs. Burke during this time. Mrs. Burke was considered to be one of the meanest women in town.

Right before Annie started high school Emmett Till was killed. This was not an unusual occurrence but, she figured out what caused his death even if she didn't know who killed him. One night while Annie was working at Mrs. Burke's she overheard a conversation the lady was having with some other women and they were discussing something called the "NAACP" and "that organization". Annie started to wonder what this organization had to do with black people and why they were discussing it. She talked to a teacher named Mrs. Rice who clarified these matters for her and gave her a lot of other information that helped form her thinking towards the relationship between blacks and whites at the time. Annie started to hate people but she hated black people more than white people because they acted one way to the white people and another way behind their back. Annie started to feel smothered by the attitudes of the people in Centreville so when she turned fifteen and got out of school for the summer, she wrote to her Uncle Ed to see if she could stay with him in Baton Rouge for the summer. He agreed so she went to Baton Rouge and worked through the summer there. When Annie came back home at the end of the summer things were



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