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1960's Counter Culture In Anne Moody's The Coming Of Age In Mississippi

2163 words - 9 pages

The counter-culture movement of the 1960s was a reaction caused by the historical amnesia from the 1950s. The historical amnesia was created to deny the racial acts of the 1950s. Because the United States began the number one world power after World War II, America needed to have a “free” image to the world. Thus, the white American public suppressed the present acts of racism by imposing an atmosphere of a peace; otherwise America would be seen as a hypocritical government, for it condemned to racial acts of Nazi Germany. This imposed peace, which is called the “false consensus”, was broken by the effects a generational gap. The generational gap allowed the discontent to expose the “hidden” racism of the United States, thus creating a counter-cultural movement. In chapter 22 of Anne Moody’s autobiography, The Coming of Age in Mississippi, Anne Moody recounts the beginning of this counter-cultural movement, which part of it becomes the Civil Rights movement. She illustrates the various ways African-Americans resisted racism as well as the difficulties in changing society. Through the use of a narrative, she is able to connect the effects of the 1960s: the historical amnesia, counter-culture, and generational gap, to the Civil Rights Movement.
By using a narrative, Moody depicts another angle that shows a lingering sense of historical amnesia. The self-inflicted amnesia allowed the public to return to pre-World War I times. The white population rejected the new idea of equality and tried to restore the “Old America” by reviving the remnants of the Jim Crow laws as well as the continual oppression of blacks. “They [Mississippi whites] believed so much in the segregated Southern way of life, they would kill to preserve it” (Moody 290). Moody’s family was being targeted by the white community in her hometown. Her brother was about to be lynched if his friend was not there to save him. Her uncle was beaten by a group of whites. Her family, especially her mother, could not sleep at night in fear of night raids. Even her own sister condemned her for participating in the protests (Moody 299). This amnesia became so sever that the racism in the United States became very similar to Nazi Germany, which the world condemned. Thus, the United States government used the media to hide the racial acts, creating a denial of racism, causing a historical amnesia. “The papers didn’t say it, but a lot of students were hurt, too, from dog bites and lumps on the head from billy clubs” (Moody 298). This lack of an accurate account was created by the media. Because people received most of the current events from the media, many failed to understand the entire picture, believing that the media is the whole truth. By only reporting black violence towards the police, the media invokes sympathy toward the policemen, thus encouraging the public to be against blacks. Also by not mentioning the casualties of African-Americans, the public assumes that the African-Americans did...

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