Ruth J. Simmons at the Brattle Theatre
One Girl's Journey
in conversation with HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR.
October 12, 2023
6:00 PM ET
(Doors at 5:30)
40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138
Harvard Book Store welcomes RUTH J. SIMMONS—former president of Smith College, Brown University, and Prairie View A&M University—for a discussion of her new memoir Up Home: One Girl's Journey. She will be joined in conversation by HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and founding Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University.
There are two ticket options available for this event.
Book-Included Ticket: Includes admission for one and one hardcover copy of Up Home: One Girl's Journey pre-signed by the author.
Admission-Only Ticket: Includes admission for one.
About Up Home
Born in 1945, Ruth J. Simmons grew up the twelfth child of sharecroppers. Her first home had no running water, no electricity to light the two crowded rooms, no books to read. Yet despite this—or, in her words, because of it—Simmons would become one of America’s preeminent educators. The former president of Smith College and Brown University, and now the outgoing president of Prairie View A&M, Texas's oldest HBCU, for decades 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.
Praise for Up Home
“A story of dreaming and becoming, of breaking out of what is supposed to be and discovering what can be. Up Home is far more than a record of the path to success of one of the truly great college presidents in the history of American education; it is a riveting work of literature, destined to take its place in the canon of great African American autobiographies. Simmons’s best friend and confidante, Toni Morrison, would be proud!” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University
“A love letter to family, to the Black teachers and institutions that loved and inspired Ruth Simmons—people and places that urged her to dream beyond her circumstance and to imagine herself in the most expansive of terms. It is the story of the power of self-creation in community.” —Eddie S. Glaude Jr., New York Times bestselling author of Begin Again
“An ode to powerful mothers and teachers everywhere whose small acts of love and encouragement pave the way for individual success, community pride, and future greatness.” —Tiya Miles, New York Times bestselling author of All That She Carried, winner of the National Book Award
Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 10 minutes
As you exit the station, cross Mass. Ave. and proceed along Brattle St. Follow Brattle St. as it curves to the right in Brattle Square (follow the sidewalk on the right side of the street). The Brattle will be on the left-hand side of the street. The building is shared with Algiers Cafe and Alden & Harlow Restaurant, and the theatre entrance is on the left side of the building—look for the sidewalk poster case and marquee.
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