Luminary author, journalist, blogger coming to WMU to deliver message on race

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News
Photo of Ta-Nehisi Coates.


KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A man who grew up in drug-riddled, inner city Baltimore and went on to become a famous author and national correspondent is visiting the Western Michigan University campus in early November to deliver a message on race relations in America.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, famous blogger and author of two critically acclaimed books, will speak at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, in Miller Auditorium. He will present a talk titled "Ta-Nehisi Coates: On Race in America," as keynote speaker at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation's 2015 Community Meeting.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required by visiting the foundation's website at or by calling (269) 381-4416. Parking is available in the Miller Auditorium ramp.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Coates is widely acknowledged for his thoughtful and influential writing on race in America in The Atlantic and elsewhere and was recently named a 2015 MacArthur Genius Award recipient. His highly acclaimed memoir, "The Beautiful Struggle," chronicles his life growing up in a tough Baltimore neighborhood, subject to the same temptations as other young black boys. But Coates had the distinction of having a strong-willed, race-conscious father who would go to any lengths—including beatings—to keep his sons on the right path.

Released earlier this year, Coates' new memoir, "Between the World and Me," was also very well received. It recently won the Kirkus Prize for nonfiction and became a No. 1 New York Times Bestseller. Written as a series of letters to his 15-year-old son, the book takes readers through the tough neighborhoods of his youth to Howard University and beyond, with discussions about America's history of racial violence and what it's like to be black in America.

Coates is considered one of the most original and perceptive African American voices in modern times. He has written on how pop culture, politics and history shape the discussions of equality, diversity and inclusion. His writings span the history of racism in America, a case for reparations, generational and ideological rifts in the black community, the meaning of black culture and the role of both older and younger generations shaping that culture.

Coates, whose Atlantic blog was named as one of the best 25 in the world by Time magazine, is Journalist-in-Residence at the School of Journalism at City University of New York and previously served as Martin Luther King Visiting Associate Professor at MIT. He received the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism in 2012 and the George Polk Award for Commentary in 2014. Before joining The Atlantic, he wrote for The Village Voice and was a contributor to Time, O and The New York Times.

Sponsored by PNC Bank, Coates' talk is part of the WMU University Center for the Humanities' 2015-16 speaker series, "Reimagining Communities."

For more information, visit and click on 2015 Community Meeting.

For more news, arts and events, visit