SEATTLE—Born to two parents who never graduated from high school, University of Richmond President Ronald A. Crutcher has spent a lifetime navigating between worlds. First as a Black classical cellist; then as a thinker and academic who grew up to shape the futures of thousands of young people.
In I Had No Idea You Were Black, Dr. Crutcher takes readers on his journey, which unfolded against the backdrop of America’s Civil Rights Movement. As a child musician, he met with Coretta Scott King. As an educator, he sat at Maya Angelou’s holiday table. But it is Dr. Crutcher’s success as a Black intellectual navigating highly charged social issues that makes his story both timely and unforgettable.
“During a time of intense social and political friction, we hope Dr. Crutcher’s surprising memoir can help communities and institutions navigate cultural divides and offer essential lessons,” said Claudia Rowe, editor-in-chief for Clyde Hill Publishing.
As a bookish, overweight boy, Ron Crutcher learned the formative power of mentorship through a chance meeting at a music competition that opened him to the possibilities contained within every life. I Had No Idea You Were Black chronicles this awakening and how it led to his own mission to improve access, affordability and inclusivity on liberal arts campuses.
Graced with a foreword by journalist and Civil Rights pioneer Charlayne Hunter-Gault, I Had No Idea You Were Black tells of Dr. Crutcher’s sometimes bumpy moments navigating cancel culture at the University of Richmond. It describes his encounters with the limitations of Northeast liberalism. And it presents his views about the true meaning of functional diversity. Echoing throughout is Dr. Crutcher’s unwavering belief in the value of inquiry, and the necessity for American citizens to rededicate ourselves to the practice of actively listening to one another.
In this compelling and courageous book, Ron Crutcher describes his remarkable journey as a musician, educator, and human being. The details of this journey make for an inspiring story, and they also reveal key lessons that allowed him to become one of the most admired leaders in American higher education. Readers will appreciate his engaging approach and also the enlightening insights he provides into the complexities of race and racism in our society.
-Freeman Hrabowski, president of University of Maryland, Baltimore County and author of Holding Fast to Dreams
I thought I knew Ron well, but this book has been a revelation: a compelling, page-turner about his exceptional life and the many people along the way who lifted him up as well as a few who tried to hold him back. It highlights the complexities of race in America and in the rarified world of elite musicians, offering practical lessons about how to lead with grace and dignity in a time of division and intolerance.
-Roger Brown, Berklee College of Music
About Ronald A. Crutcher
A national leader in higher education and a distinguished classical musician, Ronald Crutcher became President and Professor of Music at the University of Richmond in 2015. Previously, he served for ten years as President of Wheaton College in Massachusetts. At both institutions, Dr. Crutcher has promoted access, affordability, and inclusive excellence. He writes and speaks widely on the democratic purposes and civic mission of higher education. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Miami University in Ohio, Dr. Crutcher earned his master’s and doctoral degrees at Yale University. He is a former member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and sits on the board of the Richmond Symphony. He currently performs in the U.S. and Europe as a longtime member of The Klemperer Trio.