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"A Deeper Black: Race in America." Motorola Lecture

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
5:00 AM
Rackham Auditorium

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.

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, 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. Coates is currently writing his first novel, about an interracial family in pre-Civil War Virginia.

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.”

In Fall 2014, Coates began a new position teaching at the School of Journalism at the City University of New York. He was previously the Martin Luther King Visiting Associate Professor at MIT.

Cosponsored with the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, the Motorola Lecture is presented by an outstanding journalist who routinely addresses issues concerning women and gender in his reporting. Established in 2001, with support from the Motorola Foundation, this endowed lecture aims to expose students, faculty, and the broader community to the work of exceptional journalists and to inform students about ways the media can reframe public understanding of complex issues.