colbert nation | January 21, 2013

“Defending the Championship”: Ta-Nehisi Coates on Obama’s Second Term

On inauguration night, Ta-Nehisi Coates appeared on The Colbert Report to talk about President Obama’s second term—and, at the insistence of Colbert, about Michelle Obama’s new bangs! Coates is an incisive speaker on race in America. He's a Senior Editor at The Atlantic, where he wrote a defining article of Obama’s first term, “Fear of a Black President,” and profiled the Chicago of Michelle Obama’s formative years.

“As a black guy,” Colbert asked in his good-natured mock voice, “are you guys still all excited about this first black president—or have you gotten over that?” “I think we’re pretty excited,” said Coates, who wore a big smile throughout the interview. “In fact, I would actually go so far as to say that this was bigger than the last time.” The first time, he explained, was “Cinderella team wins the championship.” This time, it was akin to defending the championship—“and we defended the championship.” After some jokes about whether Joe Biden was a role model for white people, Colbert asked Coates about the Black Panther movement. (Coates wrote movingly about his father, a former Black Panther, in his memoir, The Beautiful Struggle). Growing up informed by the Panther’s radicalizing politics, Coates simply believed that there could never be a black president. “Obama broke my world view about that,” he told Colbert.