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Speaker Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Keynote on the Civil War is “a Highlight of the Week”
Testimonials | September 10, 2012

Speaker Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Keynote on the Civil War is “a Highlight of the Week”

The Civil War has much to teach us about where we’ve been and where we’re going. Recently The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates gave a timely talk on those lessons to a group of educators, and the audience response was tremendous. Here are some comments we got back, from the event planners at the Richard Bartol Jr. Educators Conference: “[You reignited] our desire to show others why we as a nation need to understand the Civil War, and why it is so important 150 years later.” They go on: “Your passion, compassion and ease in responding to audience questions was a real highlight of the week.”

Coates, a popular black history month speaker, has been touring historic Civil War battlegrounds for his upcoming novel. In a recent Atlantic piece, he writes that, when “confronted with the realization that the Civil War is the genesis of modern America, in general, and of modern black America, in particular, we cannot just implore the Park Service and the custodians of history to do more outreach—we have to become custodians ourselves.” And become a custodian he has. Coates has been vigorously researching the subject, compiling all of his findings into a series of essays and posts. Some of that material, no doubt, will also inform his highly-anticipated new novel, about an interracial family in pre-Civil War Virginia. He became “fanatical” about the Civil War after reading James M. McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. Look out for Coates’ own entry into this literary tradition soon.
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