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Ta-Nehisi Coates    

Senior Editor of The Atlantic; Bestselling Author of "Between the World and Me"

Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most original and perceptive voices in black America—and one of our best young writers, period. With rich emotional depth and a sonar sense of how pop culture, politics, and history shape discussions of race, Coates is “the young James Joyce of the hip hop generation.”

An Atlantic senior editor and writer, 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.

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ critically hailed debut, The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, is a tough and touching memoir of growing up in Baltimore during the age of crack. It's also a vivid portrait of his father, a former Vietnam Vet and Black Panther who started his own underground black press, had seven children with four women, and dedicated his life to carrying his sons across the shoals of inner city adolescence. It's already a stone cold classic.

Coates' second book, Between the World and Me, was published in July 2015. The title is drawn from a Richard Wright poem of the same name about a Black man discovering the site of a lynching and becoming incapacitated with fear, creating a barrier between himself and the world. Coates said that one of the origins of the book was the murder of a college friend, Prince Carmen Jones Jr., who was killed by police in a case of mistaken identity.

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 was the 2012–14 MLK visiting professor for writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the City University of New York as its journalist-in-residence in late 2014. In 2017, Coates will join the faculty of New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute as a Distinguished Writer in Residence.

Speech Topics

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.


Ta-Nehisi Coates to pen year-long narrative arc for Marvel’s “Black Panther” comic in 2017
Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates Among 2015 MacArthur 'Genius' Award Winners

Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, puppetry artist Basil Twist and neuroscientist Beth Stevens work in wholly unrelated fields, but they do have at least one thing in common. Along with 21 others, they are winners of the 2015 "genius" grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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