Author of Between the World and Me, a #1 New York Times Bestseller & Winner of the National Book Award
“Don't know if, in US commentary, there is a more beautiful writer than Ta-Nehisi Coates.”—Rachel Maddow
Between the World and Me is written by Ta-Nehisi Coates in the form of a letter to his teenage son, Samori. In 160 pages, it moves from Baltimore to Howard University to New York City to Paris, France, addressing what it means to be black in America. Slate calls it, “a book destined to remain on store shelves, bedside tables, and high school and college syllabi long after its author or any of us have left this Earth.” It won the National Book Award, was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, and won the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay.
An Atlantic National Correspondent, Coates has written many influential articles, including “The Case for Reparations,” which reignited the long-dormant conversation of how to repay African-Americans for a system of institutional racism that’s robbed them of wealth and success for generations. New York called the George Polk Award-winning cover story “probably the most discussed magazine piece of the Obama era.”
Coates’s debut book, The Beautiful Struggle, is a tough and touching memoir of growing up in Baltimore during the age of crack. In 2012, Coates 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.”
A former Village Voice writer, Coates has previously served as the Journalist in Residence at the School of Journalism at CUNY and the Martin Luther King Visiting Associate Professor at MIT. He has been awarded the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism. He is the winner of a 2015 MacArthur Fellowship, and was named of one TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.
A Deeper Black: Race in America
Ta-Nehisi Coates does not tend to pre-write his keynotes. He talks extemporaneously, forcefully, on the events of the day—sometimes, that literal day—and incorporates themes from his writing. Lately, his focus is on the systemic racism that is inseparable from the growth of the nation: the racist policies that have plundered black bodies, black property, and black lives for economic and social gain. How can we reconcile these acts, many of them ongoing, with the supposedly postracial country some claim we are moving towards? Other related topics include the distressing series of murders of unarmed black people that has rocked the country and dominated headlines. What does it mean to occupy a black body in America? What rules and fears and hopes govern behavior? Coates does not offer a casual “snapshot,” does not provide easy answers, and does not dole out false hope. He engages audiences in a meaningful, historically-grounded, up-to-the-minute discussion on what it means to talk—really talk—about race today.
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
Winner of the National Book Award
National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
Winner of the 2016 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay
“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.