Ruth Simmons’ new memoir “Up Home: One Girl’s Journey,” tells the story of growing up as the child of sharecroppers in rural Texas in the late 1950s. “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,” Simmons wrote.
Simmons would go on to graduate and attend university in New Orleans and then get her master’s and doctorate degrees from Harvard University. In 2001, she became the first African American president of an Ivy League institution when she became president of Brown University.
When asked about the recent Supreme Court decision to end affirmative action, Simmons said she is not as concerned as some others may be, mostly because the sheer diversity of the United States and the drive for all these diverse communities to work together to better the country will take the place of policies such as affirmative action. She also said her time living through some of the more racially tense periods in American history allow her to know what happens when people are not kind or tolerant of one another.
“Imagine going from these circumstances to the presidency of an Ivy League university. And meeting powerful people and wealthy people. So I’ve lived in a world that was so different from the world that I was born into,” Simmons told PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown.
Stream your PBS favorites with the PBS app: https://to.pbs.org/2Jb8twG
Find more from PBS NewsHour at https://www.pbs.org/newshour
Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2HfsCD6
PBS NewsHour podcasts: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/podcasts