An award-winning journalist tells the story of his quest to reconcile with his white mother and the family he’d never met—and how faith brought them all together.
“A compelling and courageous journey that bears witness to the realities of systemic racism, the complexity of identity within that system, and the possibilities of reconciliation.”—Robin DiAngelo, New York Times bestselling author of White Fragility
John Blake grew up in a notorious Black neighborhood in inner-city Baltimore that became the setting for the HBO series The Wire. There he became a self-described “closeted biracial person,” hostile toward white people while hiding the truth of his mother’s race. The son of a Black man and a white woman who met when interracial marriage was still illegal, Blake knew this much about his mother: She vanished from his life not long after his birth, and her family rejected him because of his race.
But at the age of seventeen, Blake had a surprise encounter that uncovered a disturbing family secret. This launched him on a quest to reconcile with his white family. His search centered on two questions: “Where is my mother?” and “Where do I belong?” More Than I Imagined is Blake’s propulsive true story about how he answered those questions with the help of an interracial church, a loving caregiver’s sacrifice, and an inexplicable childhood encounter that taught him the importance of forgiveness.
Blake covered some of the biggest stories about race in America for twenty-five years before realizing that “facts don’t change people, relationships do.” He owes this discovery to “radical integration,” which was the only way forward for him and his family—and is the only way forward for America as a multiracial democracy. More Than I Imagined is a hopeful story for our difficult times.
About the Author
John Blake is an award-winning CNN journalist. He has been honored by the Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Academy of Religion, the National Association of Black Journalists, and the Religion Communicators Council. A recipient of the GLAAD Media Award, he has spoken at high schools, colleges, and symposiums, and in documentaries on race, religion, and politics. Blake is a native of Baltimore, Maryland.
“This memoir surprised me over and over again. John Blake’s life reads like a thriller but, like his reporting at CNN, is packed with pockets of compassion and wisdom.”—Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist
“John Blake incisively covers news of today’s racial divide, but it’s his own story that truly deserves to be broadcast.”—Heather McGhee, New York Times bestselling author of The Sum of Us
“An incredibly moving memoir that both examines and complicates our understanding of race in America today, More Than I Imagined is overflowing with empathy and full of humanity.”—Clint Smith, New York Times bestselling author of How the Word Is Passed
“I tell John Blake things I don’t tell any other journalist. Sensitive to the moment, amid the recent surge of attention given to faith and race, Blake provides the kind of steady and studied analysis that we need to understand these critical topics.”—Jemar Tisby, New York Times bestselling author of The Color of Compromise
“John Blake takes us on a heartbreaking, powerful journey of personal, familial, and possibly national redemption. Truth-telling and working to confront those uncomfortable truths are at the core of this engaging and wrenching memoir.”—Carol Anderson, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of White Rage
“More Than I Imagined impacted me far more than I could have possibly imagined. John Blake is spot-on when he writes, ‘facts don’t change people; relationships do.’ I needed this book; our nation needs this book. Thank you, John. Highly recommend!”—Andy Stanley, pastor, founder of North Point Ministries and author of Not in It to Win It
“John Blake’s memoir takes us on a twisting personal journey with a surprise around every bend. In the process, you realize he’s living out the tattered history of race in America. Then comes the biggest surprise of all: This is a book of gutsy hope and not of despair, of reconciliation and not of hatred. Both sides of the racial divide need the voice that Blake is uniquely qualified to offer.”—Philip Yancey, author of What’s So Amazing About Grace?
“More Than I Imagined testifies to the deepest truth that America cannot change unless Americans change. John Blake’s tender, powerful reckoning with his family’s history, secrets, myths, and divisions shows how we as a country can find a pathway to wholeness.”—Eric Liu, author of Become America