Author of The Beautiful Struggle & Atlantic National Correspondent
An Atlantic National Correspondent, Ta-Nehisi Coates has penned many influential articles. One of the most famous is "This is How We Lost to the White Man," a searingly honest look at the generational and ideological rifts in the black community; its title is a quote by Bill Cosby. Last year, Coates’s lively Atlantic blog—a lesson in how to thoroughly engage a community of readers—was named by Time as one of the 25 Best in the World.
Coates is a former writer for The Village Voice, and a contributor to Time, O, and The New York Times Magazine. In 2012, he was awarded the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism. Judge Hendrik Hertzberg, of The New Yorker, wrote, “Coates is one of the most elegant and sharp observers of race in America. He is an upholder of universal values, a brave and compassionate writer who challenges his readers to transcend narrow self-definitions and focus on shared humanity.”
Coates is the Journalist in Residence at the School of Journalism at CUNY. He was previously the Martin Luther King Visiting Associate Professor at MIT.
A Deeper Black: Race in America
Ta-Nehisi Coates delves into the conflicted and hopeful state of black America today. What does "black culture" mean? What is the continuing role of both the older and younger generations in shaping it? Where will gentrification, education, and the splintering (or unifying) of families take it? With an easy-going manner, an unashamedly erudite approach, and a journalist's grasp of narrative and clarity, Coates delivers an ear-to-the-ground (and Eyes on the Prize) talk that asks the small personal questions as well as the big historic ones. Note: Coates customizes each talk to the specific audience, drawing on his body of work.
The Case for Reparations
The legacy of racism in America is tremendous. Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. It all adds up, and Ta-Nehisi Coates major Atlantic cover story “The Case for Reparations” reignited the long-dormant national conversation of just how to repay African Americans for a system of institutional racism that’s robbed them of wealth and success for generations. Based on his article, Coates plainly lays out this painful history but also an actual plan to repair, and correct, some of the damage done. It’s not simply a matter of financial compensation—though that’s part of it. With eloquence and conviction, Coates explains that openly admitting to, and apologizing for, the injustice is the only hope of moving forward to a unified future. As he reminds us, powerfully: “Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.”
Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative
Ta-Nehisi was a stunning success as our opening keynote speaker. I think he really helped pump up our partners in the child welfare advocacy and policy community, reminding them of what our mission is all about: fairness and justice for all young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood.
Between the World and Me
“This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”
In the one hundred fifty years since the end of the Civil War and the ratificiation of the Thirteenth Amendment, the story of race and America has remained a brutally simple one, written on flesh: It is the story of the black body, exploited to create the country’s foundational wealth, violently segregated to unite a nation after a civil war, and, today, still disproportionately threatened, locked up, and killed in our streets. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all—regardless of race—honestly reckon with our country’s fraught racial history and free ourselves from its burden?
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer those questions, presented in the form of a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his own awakening to the truth about history and race through a series of revelatory experiences: immersion in nationalist mythology as a child; engagement with history, poetry, and love at Howard University; travels to Civil War battlefields and the South Side of Chicago; a journey to France that reorients his sense of the world; and pilgrimages to the homes of mothers whose children’s lives have been taken as American plunder. Taken together, these stories map a winding path toward a kind of liberation—a journey from fear and confusion to a full and honest understanding of the world as it is.
Masterfully woven from lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me offers a powerful new framework for understanding America’s history and current crisis, and a transcendent vision for a way forward.
The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood
An exceptional father-son story about the reality that tests us, the myths that sustain us, and the love that saves us. Paul Coates was an enigmatic god to his sons: a Vietnam vet who rolled with the Black Panthers, an old-school disciplinarian and new-age believer in free love, an autodidact who launched a publishing company in his basement dedicated to telling the true history of African civilization. Most of all, he was a wily tactician whose mission was to carry his sons across the shoals of inner-city adolescence-- and through the collapsing civilization of Baltimore in the Age of Crack-- and into the safe arms of Howard University, where he worked so his children could attend for free.
Among his brood of seven, his main challenges were Ta-Nehisi, spacey and sensitive and almost comically miscalibrated for his environment, and Big Bill, charismatic and all-too-ready for the challenges of the streets. The Beautiful Struggle follows their divergent paths through this turbulent period, and their father's steadfast efforts-- assisted by mothers, teachers, and a body of myths, histories, and rituals conjured from the past to meet the needs of a troubled present-- to keep them whole in a world that seemed bent on their destruction.
With a remarkable ability to reimagine both the lost world of his father's generation and the terrors and wonders of his own youth, Coates offers readers a small and beautiful epic about boys trying to become men in black America and beyond.
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