The Millions

‘We Are Bridges’: Featured Nonfiction from Cassandra Lane

In the latest edition of featured nonfiction—curated by our own Carolyn Quimby—we present an excerpt from Cassandra Lane’s memoir, We Are Bridges.

The book, which won the 2020 Louise Meriwether First Book Prize, explores Lane’s ancestral history in order to give her future child a family history. Weaving the story of her great-grandparent’s lives in the rural South and her life in current-day Los Angeles, Lane explores the ways the past informs the present—and how to beautifully reclaim it.




I AM LEARNING that no matter how much you want to divorce yourself from your past—or from one of your parents—both are intrinsically part and parcel of you for the rest of your life.

My father’s ways colored my sister’s ways and mine long after Mama left him and reentered the home and culture of her youth.

On my mother’s side, we were a black and sanctified people who believed in hard work and God. While secular music was forbidden in our home, its beats surrounded Dena and me every time we stepped outside our house, and those beats felt as though they had always been a part of my blood and marrow. 

Our school bus driver, Mr. St. Romaine, blasted R&B over the speakers on the way to and from school.

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