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KNOXVILLE — Freshmen entering the University of Tennessee this fall will find they have at least one thing in common with their classmates.

Under a new program called Life of the Mind all first-year students will be required to read “The

“The Color of Water”

Color of Water: A Black Man-s Tribute to His White Mother” by James McBride.

During the freshman Welcome Week they will participate in one-hour discussion sessions about the book, led by faculty volunteers from a variety of academic disciplines.

“The Life of the Mind program is a superb opportunity for the University to acquaint new freshmen students with some of our fine faculty,” Provost Loren Crabtree said. “The discussions will highlight academic opportunities and expectations, which will be reinforced as themes from the book reappear in regular courses throughout the fall semester.

“We expect the program to engage students in intellectual pursuits from the very beginning of their college careers.”

Students are asked to purchase the book, read it over the summer, and write a one-page

James McBride

response to bring to the discussion session.

“The Color of Water” is a memoir that tells the true story of Ruth McBride Jordan, the daughter of an Orthodox rabbi, who leaves her home in the South, moves to Harlem, marries a black man, and battles racism and poverty as she raises 12 children and sends them to college.

The mother-s story is interspersed with the story of her son, who struggles to understand his mother-s past and to define his own identity.

A faculty committee who teaches and supervises freshmen courses selected the book, Crabtree said. The committee also plans to invite author James McBride to campus for a lecture early in the fall semester, he said.