A Hope in the Unseen is a biographical account of Cedric Jennings' journey from a childhood as the driven and achievement-oriented son of a drug dealer to an alienated college student at Brown University. Cedric, a young black man, faces repeated challenges to his identity as an intellectual both from his fellow black students and from white academics. He goes through life struggling to believe in the viability of his academic future.
At Ballou Senior High, a school besieged by violence in Washington, D.C., honor students have learned to keep their heads down. Like most inner-city kids, they know that any special attention in a place this dangerous can make you a target of violence. But Cedric Jennings will not swallow his pride, and with unwavering support from his mother, he studies and strives as if his life depends on it—and it does.
The summer after his junior year, at a program for minorities at MIT, he gets a fleeting glimpse of life outside, a glimpse that turns into a face-on challenge one year later: acceptance into Brown University, an Ivy League school. At Brown, finding himself far behind most of the other freshmen, Cedric must manage a bewildering array of intellectual and social challenges. Cedric had hoped that at college he would finally find a place to fit in, but he discovers he has little in common with either the white students, many of whom come from privileged backgrounds, or the middle-class blacks.
Having traveled too far to turn back, Cedric is left to rely on his faith, his intelligence, and his determination to keep alive his hope in the unseen—a future of acceptance and reward that he struggles, each day, to envision.