On February 1, 2017, Willamette University presented best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates, who delivered “A Deeper Black: Race in America” as part of the university’s Atkinson Lecture Series and annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. Doors opened at 6 for the 7 p.m. lecture in the university's Smith Auditorium.
Called “the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States” by New York Observer, Coates has earned widespread critical praise for his keen insight and powerful prose.
An Atlantic National Correspondent and 2015 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award Winner, Coates has written many influential articles, including “The Case for Reparations,” which reignited the long-dormant conversation of how to repay African-Americans for generations of lost wealth because of an oppressive system of institutional racism. New York magazine called the George Polk Award-winning cover story “probably the most discussed magazine piece of the Obama era.”
“Coates shows how our country’s long history of slavery and racism connect to our current struggles with mass incarceration, police brutality and racialized poverty,” said Willamette history professor Seth Cotlar. “He uses American history to identify the root causes of our current problems and to point the way toward a more just and equitable future.”
For his first book, “The Beautiful Struggle,” Coates earned the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism in 2012. One Hillman Prize judge called Coates “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’ most recent best-selling book, “Between the World and Me,” earned the National Book Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
The Willamette Store had copies of “Between the World and Me,” for sale at the event.