It Is Well with My Soul
The Extraordinary Life of a 106-Year-Old Woman
ISBN 9781101404324 | 224 pages | 31 Mar 2010 | Penguin | 18 - AND UP
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An African American centenarian shares wisdom from a life well lived"Now 105, Johnson offers a broad perspective on life for a woman who was the child of former slaves and lived to attend the inauguration of the first black president of the U.S. She describes herself as an "unabashed beggar," meaning unashamed to admit to her needs and ask for help and also happy to switch roles and fulfill the needs of others. She was born in Texas, orphaned at 4, and raised by a neighboring family. With aid and the support of family and friends, she studied at Fisk University, participating in a boycott organized by W. E. B. DuBois to protest authoritarian treatment of students. She went on to get a Master's degree in social work from what is now known as Case Western Reserve University. Johnson survived the Jim Crow South, the Great Depression, and widowhood as she raised two young sons and worked as a social worker in Cleveland. Johnson offers encouragement and inspiration, citing her faith as a source of strength over a long and fruitful lifespan.
An inspirational, dynamic, and one-of-a-kind woman, Ella Mae Cheeks Johnson's ordinary life has been nothing less than extraordinary throughout the course of her 105 years. The oldest living black graduate of Case Western Reserve University, Ella Mae is the child of former slaves who has experienced the best and worst of the past century, including the 2009 presidential inauguration, which she memorably attended last January. Through it all, she has endured-and thrived-by believing that compassion is the key to the good life. In It Is Well with My Soul, she shares her insights on living a long and enjoyable life and her hopes for the future.
-Vanessa Bush, Booklist
"Ella Mae's memoir describes a parallel history of the black experience in our nation that is so rarely recorded. After living a life of quiet dignity, Ella Mae Cheeks Johnson, in It Is Well with My Soul shares a story that is inspiring and uplifting."
-Richard Glaubman, coauthor of Life is So Good
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