Table of contents

Prologue: Controlling My Exit

1. Roots

2. A Father I Hardly Knew

3. The Village That Raised Me

4. College Dreams

5. Dartmouth

6. Military

7. Ministry

8. Brooklyn

9. Taconic Foundation

10. Percy Sutton, Media, and Harlem

A photo gallery follows chapter 10

11. Senate Campaign

12. Albany

13. International Opportunities

14. Lieutenant Governor Campaign

15. The Private Sector

16. New York State Comptroller

17. Campaign for Governor

18. Freedom

19. State University of New York

20. Retirement


An intimate and moving account of how the author rose from poverty to become a major Black political figure in New York State.


Truly Blessed and Highly Favored is the story of the remarkable rise and illustrious career of H. Carl McCall, a revered figure in New York State politics and the first Black official elected to statewide office. Growing up in Roxbury, Massachusetts, one of six children reared by a single mother, he experiences the difficulties of poverty, the heartache of an absent father, and incidents of racism, but these challenges are juxtaposed with the triumphs of attaining an Ivy League degree, becoming a popular preacher, and attaining success at the highest levels of business and politics. He provides a behind-the-scenes political primer on his mentorship with Harlem political power brokers Percy Sutton, Charles Rangel, and David Dinkins, and offers hard-won lessons from his time in the York State Senate, his tenure as New York State Comptroller, and his bruising campaign for governor. Along the way, he includes engrossing stories about Bill and Hillary Clinton, Mario and Andrew Cuomo, and such icons as Nelson Mandela and Jimmy Carter. Mixing the personal and the political, this memoir is the story of the drive and determination of a Black man who never forgot his roots and always tried to pay it forward.

H. Carl McCall is former New York State Comptroller and Chairman Emeritus, State University of New York. A passionate advocate for opportunity and access in higher education, and a champion for underserved minorities, he was awarded the Governor's Medal of Public Service in 2020, and the landmark SUNY administration headquarters in downtown Albany was renamed the H. Carl McCall SUNY Building.


"Among the more than 30 photos in Carl McCall's Truly Blessed and Highly Favored memoir is one where he poses in front of a building in Albany named in his honor. Like the building, the prose soars epically, chronicling his magnificent odyssey as it recounts nearly a century of New York's political history." — New York Amsterdam News

"…a riveting story…" — Albany Times Union

"Carl McCall's memoir shines a light on the dark roads he has traveled. From poverty to national leadership, Carl has always been the go-to man who got the job done and who made us all so proud. This book will help readers see how one can come from our toughest streets and, through hard work and a series of successes, be an inspiration for so many. As a longtime member of the U.S. House of Representatives, I relied so much on Carl's intelligence, commitment, and leadership skills. Every step he made on his journey is a testament to his faith in a brighter future for the people and community he served." — Former congressman Charles B. Rangel

"One of the things that keeps me hopeful in good times and in other times is a voice that confirms hope. H. Carl McCall's deeply moving and informative book has something we have shared over the years, and that is Faith. The book takes me back to the early sixties, to a time when I was just beginning my work in journalism and was myself truly blessed to find Carl when he was lifting up the kinds of people he writes about—the people who had no voice of their own. A great road map for any and all times." — Charlayne Hunter-Gault, author of To the Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil Rights Movement

"With grace and insight, Carl McCall takes us from his close-knit Black working-class neighborhood in Boston to Dartmouth College and the halls of power in New York, to illuminate the lessons forged from his remarkable life. An intimate, poignant, and instructive meditation on honor, public service, and a life well lived." — Pamela Newkirk, author of Diversity, Inc.: The Failed Promise of a Billion-Dollar Industry

"My congratulations to Carl McCall on his autobiography that adds to the important history of Black achievers whose successes counter persistent negative racial stereotypes. We first met when he was a teenager in Roxbury, Massachusetts, as an extension of his friendship with my younger siblings. Even then he displayed his self-discipline and ambition, which matched his personal charm: a potent combination. Along with his wife, Dr. Joyce F. Brown, President of FIT, they are a true power duo who have enhanced the Black experience." — Clifton R. Wharton, Jr., author of Privilege and Prejudice: The Life of a Black Pioneer

"Carl McCall, who has overcome obstacles, broken barriers, and served the public with great distinction—and whom I've had the honor to know for nearly fifty years—now shares his amazing life story in a book that should be required reading for every current and aspiring elected official. As his memoir will powerfully remind us: if every public servant shared Mr. McCall's commitment and work ethic, our state and nation would be the better for it. Here is not only a must-read autobiography, but a how-to guide to effective and inspiring leadership." — Harold Holzer, author of Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion.