Up Home with Ruth Simmons
Tuesday, March 26, 2024
6:00 p.m. ET (reception at 5:30)
Free and open to the public.
Register to attend in person or online.
Benjamin Franklin Hall
427 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Born in 1945, Ruth J. Simmons (APS 1997) 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.
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 was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1997.