Barbara Jennings is Cedric’s mother and the most important person in his life. She raised Cedric on her own because the boy’s father, Cedric Gilliam, wanted nothing to do with a child, and because he spent most of the boy’s childhood in and out of prison for taking and dealing drugs. Barbara focused all of her energy and attention on her son, and they spent most of their time at church, where Barbara serves as a missionary and Cedric used to sing in the choir. She even left her job during the first years of Cedric’s life, going on welfare for five years, so that she could spend all of her time with her son. This close relationship between mother and son was strained when Cedric went off to college at Brown, as Barbara no longer had anyone to take care of. She began to feel depressed, and mismanaged the small amount of money she had, neglecting to pay bills and her rent, until she was nearly evicted for nonpayment. Cedric’s first year in college is a profound learning experience for Barbara, who must redefine herself after 18 years of centering her world and sense of self around raising and protecting her son. After a painful eviction, she eventually begins to take care of herself, pay off debts, and explore the possibility of a social life, which helps her reconnect with her son.