Anne Moody

The subject of the autobiography. Moody’s given name is Essie Mae, though she goes by Anne.

Read an in-depth analysis of Anne Moody.

Toosweet Davis (Mama)

Anne’s mother. Toosweet strives to feed and clothe her children and encourages Anne’s schoolwork early on. However, she does not encourage Anne to go to college and begs Anne to get out of the civil rights movement.

Read an in-depth analysis of Toosweet Davis (Mama).

Adline Moody

Anne’s younger sister. Adline and her mother do not support Anne’s civil rights work, though Adline eventually supports Anne’s decision to go to college

Diddly Moody (Dil)

Anne’s father. Moody deserts Toosweet for Florence. Anne goes to live with him after she leaves Toosweet.

Raymond Davis

Toosweet’s second husband. Raymond Davis and Anne have a tense relationship, which prompts Anne to move out of her immediate family’s house.

James Moody

Anne’s younger brother and Raymond’s son.

Junior Moody

Anne’s younger brother and Diddly’s son.

Virginia Moody (Jennie Mae)

Toosweet’s daughter by Raymond.


Toosweet’s sister. Alberta moves nearby after Virginia is born.


Raymond’s younger sister. Darlene is Anne’s age. Anne delights in outperforming her in school and church activities.

Wayne Burke

Mrs. Burke’s son. Wayne grows attached to Anne, enraging his mother.

Mrs. Burke

Linda Mae and Wayne’s mother. Mrs. Burke employs Anne as a maid. Mrs. Burke is highly unpleasant and looks down on blacks. Anne first hears about the NAACP when she overhears Mrs. Burke discussing it with a ladies’ group.

Read an in-depth analysis of Mrs. Burke.

The Carter Family

Owners of the plantation where Anne lives at the start of the memoir. The Carter family employs Anne and her family. Anne’s mother says Mr. Carter stays up at night counting money he has made off the black plantation workers.

Reverend Carson

Anne’s teacher at Mt. Pleasant School. Reverend Carson terrifies the children with his loud voice and his switch; he is fairly inept as a teacher.

The Claiborne Family

The family that employs Anne. The Claiborne family encourages Anne in her schoolwork and shares their dinner table with her. She helps them around the house.

Aunt Cindy

Toosweet’s sister. Aunt Cindy hosts Anne during the first few weeks after she leaves Dil.

The Cook Family

A family that is acquainted with Anne’s. The Cook family rents Anne’s mother her first house after Anne’s father abandons her. They are kind to Anne and her family.


A fellow CORE activist with Anne in Canton. Doris grows extremely nervous in the face of constant white terrorism.


Exceptionally beautiful widow of Dil’s best friend, Hank. Dil has an affair with her that destroys his marriage with Toosweet.

George Lee

Toosweet’s younger brother. Lee is forced to look after Anne and Adline—when he is only eight years old—while their parents are working. He hits the girls and accidentally sets the wallpaper on fire when he tries to scare them with matches.

Mr. Hicks

Gym teacher and athletic coach. Mr. Hicks becomes infatuated with Anne.

Linda Mae Jenkins

A woman who employs Anne as a maid and babysitter.

The Johnson Family

Family who employs Toosweet as a maid. The Johnson family is kinder to Toosweet than her other employers. She works for them after quitting the café but before moving in with Raymond.

Ola Johnson

Grandmother of the Johnson family. Johnson takes Anne under her wing and encourages her in all pursuits.


A basketball player at Natchez and Anne’s first boyfriend.

Reverend Edward King

A white southern minister and civil rights activist who befriends Anne.

Miss Pearl

Raymond’s mother. Miss Pearl treats Toosweet coldly because Toosweet is darker skinned.

Grandfather Moody

Anne’s grandfather. Grandfather Moody is regretful of his son’s abandonment of Anne’s family, and so he gives them money from the pouch around his waist.

Mrs. Rice

Anne’s teacher. Rice tells Anne about the NAACP and encourages her to learn more about the civil rights movement.

Uncle Ed

Toosweet’s brother. Ed is Anne’s favorite uncle when she is a child.

Mr. Willis

Principal of Anne’s high school. Mr. Willis is considered the biggest “Uncle Tom” in Anne’s town. Many believe he helped conspire to murder an NAACP activist.

Mrs. Willis

Anne’s eighth-grade teacher. Mrs. Willis’s extraordinary skills as a fund-raiser help Anne become homecoming queen.


Anne’s grandmother. Winny is Toosweet’s mother. She has thirteen children and has never married.