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Ta-Nehisi Coates to speak at Earlham College

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Ta-Nehisi Coates

Award-winning journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates will speak Friday evening at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind. The lecture is part of the school's Black History Month commemoration.

"He is a public intellectual, social critic, award-winning author, and a journalist who grapples with the thorny issues of freedom, inequality, [and] social and racial justice that continue to animate our national conversation today," says Womai Song, Ph.D., assistant professor of African and African American studies and assistant professor of history at Earlham College.

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Song will host a 30-minute conversation with Coates, followed by a moderated Q&A session. He says people who attend the lecture will leave with a better understanding of history and the world today.

"People ... will be able to understand how we got here — because it's very much in the history, how we got here — and [I'm] also hoping that we can figure out ways that can help us to navigate the times in which we are."

Coates is a former national correspondent for The Atlantic. While there, he was known for his reporting on race, culture, politics and more. Two of his most notable pieces there include the 2012 cover story"Fear of a Black President," on President Barack Obama, and the 2014 feature, "The Case for Reparations," focused on the impact of historical redlining and housing discrimination.

His non-fiction work, Between the World and Me, penned in 2015, is a No. 1 New York Times bestseller and won the 2015 National Book Award. It's written in the form of a letter to his teenage son, and offers an exploration of America's history with race and power.

Coates is also well-known for his 2016-2018 stint authoring Marvel Comic's popular Black Panther series. He released his first novel, The Water Dancer, in 2019.

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In 2015, Coates was named a MacArthur Fellow — better known as the MacArthur 'genius' grants — for his work as a "[j]ournalist interpreting complex and challenging issues around race and racism through the lens of personal experience and nuanced historical analysis."

"It's important to hear his voice because he has emerged as one of the singular voices — I think this was said by the New York Observer — that's as one of the most original and perspective Black voices today, and also as the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States," Song says.

The lecture begins at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2., in Earlham's Goddard Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.