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How far to the promised land : one Black family's story of hope and survival in the American South  Cover Image Book Book

How far to the promised land : one Black family's story of hope and survival in the American South / Esau McCaulley.

McCaulley, Esau, (author.).


"From the New York Times contributing opinion writer and award-winning author of Reading While Black, a riveting intergenerational account of his family's search for meaning and a place to call home in the American South. For much of his life, Esau McCaulley was taught to see himself as an exception: someone who, through hard work, faith, and determination, overcame childhood poverty, anti-Black racism, and an absent father to earn a job as a university professor and a life in the middle class. This account was the one he was conditioned to give, the story America demands from Black survivors. But when tasked with preparing the eulogy at his estranged father's funeral, McCaulley, an ordained minister, was forced to reexamine his past and face the shortcomings of that narrative about his own path to prosperity. No one "escapes" poverty; it marks us. He came to see that people, even those who harmed us, are often more complicated than the roles we create for them in our imagination. The way to the promised land is not a trip from poverty to success, but the journey to finding beauty even in dark places. In searching prose, McCaulley chronicles his lifelong effort to understand the community that shaped him and the struggle they endured to make a home for their loved ones. We meet his great grandmother, Sophia, a tenant farmer born with the gift of prophecy, who scraped together a life in Jim Crow Alabama; his grandparents, the Reverend Theodore and his wife Laura May, who ran a gambling spot in their home, their complex relationship introducing him to the multifaceted nature of love; his mother, Laurie, who survived brain cancer and raised four kids alone in rough-and-tumble Northwest Huntsville; and a cast of cousins, friends, and neighbors who won small victories in a world built to swallow up Black lives. Along the way, McCaulley raises questions that implicate us all: How do we make sense of America's triumphs and misdeeds? What does each person's struggle to build a life, regardless of its outcome, teach us about what it means to be human? Where might God be found in trauma and miracle that is Black life in the American South? Written with profound honesty and compassion, How Far to the Promised Land is a weighty examination of our most pressing societal issues and the hope that keeps us alive"-- Provided by publisher.

Record details

  • ISBN: 9780593241080
  • ISBN: 0593241088
  • Physical Description: xxii, 210 pages ; 22 cm
  • Edition: First edition.
  • Publisher: New York : Convergent Books, an imprint of Random House, [2023]

Content descriptions

Formatted Contents Note:
Introduction: Black narratives and American dreams -- Part I: Absence and presence. The making of a villain ; Single moms aren't allowed to die ; Three inches to the right ; The game is undefeated ; Survival is complicated -- Part II: The vine and fig tree. Sophia's gift ; Running from the South ; There is power in the blood -- Part III: Ordinary glory. If you scared go to church ; Fools fall in love ; Black holidays ; Fathers and sons revisited -- Conclusion: A funeral.
Subject: McCaulley, Esau > Childhood and youth.
McCaulley, Esau, Sr., 1960-2017 > Family.
McCauley family.
McCauley family.
African American families > Alabama > Social conditions.
African Americans > Alabama > Huntsville > Social conditions.
Poor Black people > Alabama > Biography.
Familles noires américaines > Alabama > Conditions sociales.
Noirs américains > Alabama > Huntsville > Conditions sociales.
African American families > Social conditions.
African Americans > Social conditions.
Childhood and youth of a person.
Poor Black people.
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Cultural, Ethnic & Regional / African American & Black.
Social classes.
Parenting: advice & issues.
Huntsville (Ala.) > Biography.
Alabama > Huntsville.
Genre: autobiographies (literary works)

Available copies

  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Library.
  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Library System. (Show)
  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Public Library. (Show)


  • 0 current holds with 1 total copy.
Show Only Available Copies
Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
Homer Public Library B MCCAULLEY (Text) 000171559 Display -- Lit Lineup Available -

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