Born Essie Mae Moody on September 15, 1940, near Centreville, Mississippi, Moody was the daughter of poor African American sharecroppers. She was the oldest of nine children.
She won a basketball scholarship to Natchez Junior College and was in attendance from 1959 through 1961. She then won an academic scholarship to Tugaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1964.
While at Tugaloo, Moody became an activist in the civil rights movement, maintaining involvement with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1963, she was one of three young people who staged a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in Jackson. She also took part in the 1963 march on Washington, D.C.
Books in order of publication:
Coming of Age in Mississippi: The Classic Autobiography of a Young Black Girl in the Rural South – 1968
Mr. Death: Four Stories – 1975