In 1997, Cedric begins his junior year at Brown, and is beginning to feel more comfortable in this new world he has found for himself. Many of his classmates from Ballou have not had the same success after graduation: Phillip Atkins is still working in the mailroom; LaTisha has dropped out of college and joined a fundamentalist church, later quitting her job to sell candy on the sidewalk to support the church. Cedric’s father successfully completed his drug treatment program and has stayed clean, and he is trying to repair his relationship with his son, albeit slowly. Barbara was eventually evicted, and the church did not come to save her a second time; this gave her the motivation she needed to start repaying her debts and take better care of herself. She and Cedric stay in touch and spend time together, now that their relationship has evolved.
This long-range view of the fates of Cedric and his friends and family demonstrates how important—and necessary—college was for Cedric. He continues to work on his academic and social development, while the people he has left behind are no further than they were when he left. Much of what holds his friends back is related to their religious connections—Phillip’s ambitions have been crushed by his father’s devotion to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, LaTisha has given herself over to fundamentalism, and Barbara allowed her faith to cloud her judgment again.
Cedric and Rob did eventually become friends, and laughed together about their passive-aggressive sink decoration from freshman year. Most of Cedric’s friends are black, however, and he spends much of his time at Harambee House, and is dating a basketball player named Nicole Brown. He works at the admissions office to supplement the money he receives from Dr. Korb—and it is on those lazy days at work that Cedric thinks about his past, and how he always felt that he had “something to push against.” He no longer feels that anymore, and he doesn’t miss it, either.
Cedric has finally found the self-confidence to spend time with other black students without losing his sense of self. He has also released the anger that pushed him, and replaced it with a simple sense of ambition that will propel him forward without causing him deep pain at the same time.