In this masterful work of family-focused sociology, Lois Benjamin charts the lives of Pennie and Roscoe James and their children, telling the story of how a large, close-knit African American family with humble origins in a small town of North Carolina is shaped by the contours of its religious and ethical value system. Despite the challenges of daily experiences, they transmitted values that led to noble character traits that gave their children the resources to thrive and the resilience to meet adversity. The James children give their personal, unique perspectives on how faith, familial solidarity, and savvy entrepreneurship led to their continued generational success.

Benjamin uses a blend of ethnographic and qualitative methods, placing the James experiences in broader historical context. Their values of compassion, empathy, and communitarian and enterprising spirit offer hope in this polarized society. These values have not only produced ethical and caring servant leaders, but have also fashioned socially conscious entrepreneurs and innovators, leading to both individual and group mobility.

 Lois Benjamin is professor emerita of sociology at Hampton University and author of several books, including The Black Elite: Still Facing the Color Line in the Twenty-First Century.

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