Up Home: One Girl’s Journey by Ruth J. Simmons

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Occasionally, a Proposed Topic for Future Meetings has a SHORT-TIME FUSE because a governmental unit is soliciting PUBLIC COMMENTS for a limited time period with a SPECIFIED DEADLINE.

Exhibit A would be the 8/5/2016 Proposed Topic entitled “Clone Rights -- Involuntary Soldiers, Sex Slaves, Human Lab Rats, Etc.”

We had already focused on this topic for our 4/9/2008 meeting more than 8 years ago when the PBS Newshour interviewed a Yale U. Biology Professor who had already created a “Chimaera” with 25% Human DNA and 75% Chimp DNA (Chimps are the animals that share the most DNA with humans).

The Yale U. Biology Professor stated that he was then (2008) in the process of creating a “Chimaera” with 50% Human DNA and 50% Chimp DNA, and that he planned to create in the near future (2008 et seq.) a “Chimaera” with 75% Human DNA and 25% Chimp DNA.

As our 4/9/2008 meeting materials posted on http://www.ReadingLiberally-SaltLake.org disclose, Gwen Ifill who conducted the interview, was oblivious to the issue of the Nazi’s definition of a Jew based on the percentage of Jewish heritage and the Ante-Bellum American South’s definition of African-American based on the percentage of Sub-Saharan-African heritage.

But, even more appallingly, Gwen Ifill failed to ask the obvious question = What happens if the 50%-50% “Chimaera” then already being created happens to exhibit as DOMINANT TRAITS 100% Human DNA and as RECESSIVE TRAITS 100% Chimp DNA!!! Which, of course, would mean that Yale U. was treating as a lab rat a “Chimaera” that is 100% Human!!!

Unfortunately, the 8/5/2016 Proposed Topic was prompted by a Proposal from the National Institute of Health (NIH) which appeared in The Federal Register of 8/5/2016 and which had a 9/6/2016 deadline for public comments!!!

So our 9/14/2016 meeting, which was the first for which our focus had not already been determined as of 8/5/2016 under our normal rules, was too late.

So the reason for inaugurating this Short-Fuse Notice Section is to provide a Special Heads Up that a Proposed Topic has a Public-Comment Deadline that will occur before the first regular meeting date at which the topic can be discussed -- so that any of our readers who want to comply with the Public-Comment Deadline can contact the Proposer of the Topic in order to confer with anyone else who may be considering comments by the deadline.


1. Re “Clone Rights -- Involuntary Soldiers, Sex Slaves, Human Lab Rats, Etc.” (proposed 8/5/2016), although the 9/6/2016 public-comment deadline of the National Institute of Health (NIH) has passed, this Topic Proposal is still active. PLEASE NOTE ATTACHED TO THIS PROPOSAL THE 1/29/2017 UPDATE ENTITLED0 “HUMAN-PIG CHIMERAS -- DECENT BEHAVIOR DESPITE OPEN BARN DOOR.”

2. Re “Destroying Great Salt Lake To Grow Low-Profit Hay For China” (proposed 9/27/2016), there is a 10/24/2016 public-comment deadline that will occur before our first possible regular meeting (11/16/2016) at which this Proposed Topic could be considered.
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Up Home: One Girl’s Journey by Ruth J. Simmons

Post by johnkarls »


I propose that we read “Up Home: One Girl’s Journey” by Ruth J. Simmons (Random House 9/5/2023 - 224 pages but perhaps fewer sans notes & index - $22.49 + shipping or $13.99 Kindle from Amazon.com).

This book has caused me considerable consternation re whether it meets the criteria for the focus of a non-partisan public-policy study/action organization whose members, when they consider proposing a book, I always exhort to ask themselves “what might we recommend as a public policy after reading the book and to what decision maker(s) might we address the recommendation.”

Considerable consternation because without reading “Up Home,” I can’t answer my own questions about what public policy would be involved and who the decision maker(s) would be.

HOWEVER, if all American youth could be inspired (hopefully by a public policy) to imitate Ruth Simmons’ drive for excellence and public service, it seems imperative NOT to –

let yet another inspiring biography become, in the arc of history, a brief flash-in-the-pan that is soon forgotten,

but rather to ascertain what public policy might be distilled from its pages to help make its message immortal.

The reason why I think Ruth Simmons’ book might have such potential is her life story –

• Born 78 years ago in Grapeland TX, the last of 12 children fathered by a sharecropper.
• Earning a scholarship to Dillard University – a historically-black university in New Orleans affiliated with the Congregational and United Methodist Churches.
• Earning her MA and PhD from Harvard in Romance Languages/Literature.
• Professor and various types of Dean at e.g., USC and Princeton U, before becoming President 1995 – 2001 of Smith College (one of the fabled “Seven Sisters” women’s colleges which included the de facto co-ed side of Harvard and Columbia) – where she started the first engineering program at a U.S. women’s college.
• First African-American woman to head an Ivy League school – serving as President of Brown University 2001-2012.
• BTW, serving simultaneously 2000-2009 on the Goldman Sachs Board.
• Coming out of retirement to serve 2017-2023 as President of Texas’ Prairie View A & M University – a historically-black university which is one of Texas’ only two land-grant universities and Texas’ second-oldest institution of higher learning.
• Shunning a second retirement, Ruth Simmons began June 2023 as an advisor to Harvard regarding its relationship with HBCU’s and began April 2023 as a President’s Distinguished Fellow at Rice U.

Book Description per Amazon.com

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

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.

Reviews per Amazon.com

“The tale of an individual making her way over nearly insurmountable obstacles with the help of determined teachers and mentors. . . Extraordinary.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“[An] inspiring story . . . a love letter to every person who helped Simmons out of poverty.”
—The Washington Post

“Honest, intimate and deeply affecting, [Up Home] recalls Anne Moody’s classic memoir, ‘Coming of Age in Mississippi,’ not just in the obvious biographical parallels but also in terms of its potential impact. This is a book you’ll want to pass on to all the young people in your life, no matter their background—just so they can have a little of Simmons’s wise voice in their heads. I’d urge every educator to assign Up Home to high school students or incoming college freshmen. It’s that good.”
—The New York Times

“Simmons tells her story as only she can: simply but eloquently, directly, with a devastating honesty.”
—The Dallas Morning News

“Up Home reads like an inverse retelling of Richard Wright’s Native Son. . . . Endearingly candid.”
—Texas Monthly

“Extraordinary . . . a tribute to the people who helped [Simmons] leave poverty and find her place in the world.”
—Houston Chronicle

“Simmons provides an extensive, engrossing family history of both the land they worked and the people she met along her voyage away from rural Texas to the highest rungs of academia. . . . A declaration of love and the constant journey homeward from a brilliant mind . . . [an] inspiring story.”
—Kirkus Reviews

”[A] poignant and inspiring memoir . . . a fiercely memorable debut.”
—Publishers Weekly

“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

“(A) poignant memoir . . . Up Home recalls a life richly shaped by experiences with languages, literature and mentors that helped Simmons become a person she never expected to be. Her sparkling prose and vibrant storytelling invite readers to accompany her on her journey.”—BookPage

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