Up Home: One Girl's Journey
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “Simmons’s evocative account of her remarkable trajectory from Jim Crow Texas, where she was the youngest of twelve children in a sharecropping family, to the presidencies of Smith College and Brown University shines with tenderness and dignity.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
“A riveting work of literature, destined to take its place in the canon of great African American autobiographies.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, Bloomberg, BET
I was born at a crossroads: a crossroads in history, a crossroads in culture, and a geographical crossroad in North Houston County in East Texas.
Born in 1945, Ruth J. Simmons grew up the twelfth child of sharecroppers. Her first home had no running water, no electricity, no books to read. Yet despite this—or, in her words, because of it—Simmons would become the first Black president of an Ivy League university. The former president of Smith College, Brown University, and Prairie View A&M, Texas’s oldest HBCU, Simmons has inspired generations of students as she herself made history.
In Up Home, Simmons takes us back to Grapeland to show how the people who love us when we are young shape who we become. We meet her caring, tireless mother who managed to feed her large family with an often empty pantry; her father, who refused to let racial and economic injustice crush his youngest daughter’s dreams; the doting brothers and sisters; and the attentive teachers who welcomed Ruth into the classroom, guiding her to a future she could hardly imagine as a child.
From the farmland of East Texas to Houston’s Fifth Ward to New Orleans at the dawn of the civil rights movement, Simmons depicts an era long gone but whose legacies of inequality we still live with today. Written in clear and timeless prose, Up Home is both an origin story set in the segregated South and the uplifting chronicle of a girl whose intellect, grace, and curiosity guide her as she creates a place for herself in the world.
Ruth J. Simmons is the former president of Smith College, Brown University, and Prairie View A&M University, Texas’s oldest HBCU, and the former vice provost of Princeton. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Dillard University and her master’s and doctorate from Harvard in Romance languages and literatures. The president of France named her chevalier of the French Legion of Honor and President Biden named her to the White House HBCU Advisory Board. She lives in Texas.
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 09/05/2023 - 12:00am
On Sale: 09/05/2023 - 12:00am