No Ashes in the Fire

Memoirs / Current Affairs

by Darnell L. Moore
May 2018 – Nation Books

NO ASHES IN THE FIRE examines the making of a writer and Black Lives Matter activist whose own survival story is shared by many of those who have helped shape one of the largest iterations of the Black Freedom Movement since the 1960s. It is at once an intimate coming-of-age story and a blueprint for the future of the fight to end oppression in the U.S.

In the tradition of James Baldwin as well as recent memoirs such as Ta-Nehisi Coates’ BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME and Mychal Denzel Smith’s Invisible Man, God the Whole World Watching, Darnell Moore asks what it means to be both a black man and a gay man in America. Growing up in 1980s and 90s Camden, NJ, Darnell Moore didn’t have the luxury of trigger warnings. He experienced violence on the street and behind closed doors, enacted on him and those he loved by strangers, neighbors, and family alike. It was the height of pervasive homophobia, the AIDS and crack epidemics, and hip-hop culture, all of which shaped him. And in a city that is often labeled the “worst”, “poorest”, and “most violent” in America, it was difficult to believe that such labels weren’t just condemning a place, but an entire people. The struggle to be seen—as worthy, as equal, as someone who is more than the labels placed upon him—was always complicated by the truth he sought to keep hidden, to deny its existence so he might grow up to be the “right” kind of black man—a strong, respectable, masculine, God-fearing, straight black man.

Darnell Moore’s NO ASHES IN THE FIRE explores the spaces where falling in love isn’t a metaphorical risk, it’s a real one; where loving boys is a crime that neighborhood kids try to punish with flames; where loving boys requires silence in exchange for safety. Using the narrative of his own coming of age, Moore shows us that in a world where loving your own blackness is a radical act, loving your queerness and blackness is more radical still. What Darnell does best, and what makes NO ASHES IN THE FIRE a powerful and necessary work, is to painstakingly detail the many ways in which the personal is political.

Darnell L. Moore is an educator and writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY. His writing has allowed him to engage in media advocacy around the world. He is Senior Editor for, a millennial focused news site with over 30 million monthly readers. He is also a Co-Managing Editor/Partner of The Feminist Wire. He has written for various media outlets including The Advocate, Guernica, Ebony, OUT Magazine, Gawker, Vice UK, Thought Catalog, Mondoweiss, Huffington Post, and The Good Men Project, among others. Darnell has taught or given keynote lectures at several colleges, including Rutgers, Vassar, Harvard, Stanford, Fordham, and the New School. He is presently a Fellow at the Center on African American Religion, Sexuality, and Social Justice at Columbia University.


« [A] bold and candid memoir… Moore’s well-crafted book is a stunning tribute to affirmation, forgiveness, and healing–and serves as an invigorating emotional tonic. » —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review