Updates on Ta-Nehisi Coates

From “Ta-Nehisi Coates on Creating Black Superheroes,” The New York Times (2 March 2017):

When Marvel Comics announced in September 2015 that Ta-Nehisi Coates would be writing a new Black Panther series, the timing could not have been more fortuitous. That same month, Mr. Coates, who writes regularly for The Atlantic, was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” and, two months later, a National Book Award for nonfiction for Between the World and Me, his passionate letter to his son about being black in America.

The momentum for the hero was also tremendous. Issue No. 1 of Black Panther hit stores last April and went on to sell more than 300,000 copies, according to Marvel. He then made his big screen debut in May, with “Captain America: Civil War,” and was played by Chadwick Boseman, who will reprise the role in a solo film next year. In July came Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, a collected edition of the first four issues of the comic. It was followed, in November, by World of Wakanda, a companion series in which Mr. Coates introduced two more newcomers to the roster of comic-book scribes: the feminist writer Roxane Gay and the poet Yona Harvey. This April comes a new series, Black Panther and the Crew, a team comprising only black heroes, written by Mr. Coates and Ms. Harvey.

Mr. Coates answered questions about the success of Black Panther, his approach to writing, the members of the Crew and what’s next.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates has scripted Marvel Comics’ Black Panther. Issue #3 of 11 was released on June 30, 2016, with illustrations by artist Brian Stelfreeze.

Black Panther follows an African king named T’Challa with superhuman strength and intellect, who presides over the fictional nation of Wakanda. Black Panther was first launched in 1966, just a few months before the Black Panther political party came on the scene (Coates himself is the son of Paul Coates, a former member of the Black Panther Party). But over the years, T’Challa has pretty much played second fiddle to the likes of Daredevil and Captain America. And his storylines often revolve around divided loyalties.

In Issue #3, the Midnight Angels continue the liberation of Wakanda with extreme prejudice, and T’Challa’s indecisions could cost him more than just the throne. The issue includes a few introductory words on writers Toni Morrison, Joel Dias-Porter, Eugene Redmond, and Henry Dumas. In a behind-the-scenes blog for The Atlantic, Coates writes about being stunned by Henry Dumas’ poem “Rootsong” for its use of “black myth to construct a narrative of the diaspora before and after colonialism and enslavement.”

READ COATES’ BEHIND-THE-SCENES IN THE ATLANTIC


Video preview of Black Panther Issue #3

 

Ta-Nehisi Coates has scripted Marvel Comics’ Black Panther. Issue #2 of 11 was released on May 11, 2016, with illustrations by artist Brian Stelfreeze.

Black Panther follows an African king named T’Challa with superhuman strength and intellect, who presides over the fictional nation of Wakanda. Black Panther was first launched in 1966, just a few months before the Black Panther political party came on the scene (Coates himself is the son of Paul Coates, a former member of the Black Panther Party). But over the years, T’Challa has pretty much played second fiddle to the likes of Daredevil and Captain America. And his storylines often revolve around divided loyalties.

“This is the dude I wanted to read when I was ten,” says Coates on social media. “He didn’t exist (in his own stand-alone) and so we make do. My hope is some kid is reading this now (maybe one of my nieces or nephews) and feeling it, and seeing themselves.”

READ COATES’ BEHIND-THE-SCENES IN THE ATLANTIC

 

Sample pages from Black Panther, Issue #2

 

Black-Panther-issue2-COVBlack-Panther-issue2

 

 

Ta-Nehisi Coates is among the winners of the 2016 PEN Literary Awards. The $10,000 awards span fiction, drama, sports writing, biography, translation, poetry, and more. Winners were announced at a ceremony on Monday, April 11, 2016 at The New School in New York City.

Coates, author of Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau/Random House), was honored with the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, judged by Verlyn Klinkenborg, Meghan O’Rourke, and Luc Sante. This award celebrates a book of essays published in 2015 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature. Toni Morrison (PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction) is among the other 2016 awardees. Coates’ father, Paul Coates, accepted the award on his son’s behalf.

“The books, authors, subjects, and subjectivities that this year’s judges found most worthy of PEN Literary Awards are ones that give voice to the voiceless, put the marginalized in the mainstream, and tell stories untold,” said Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN America.

Founded in 1922, PEN America is an association of 4,400 U.S writers working to break down barriers to free expression worldwide. Its distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and the advancement of human rights of such past members as Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck. For the last 90 years, PEN American Center has been working to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others.

 

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Ta-Nehisi Coates delivered the keynote address at the University’s 149th Charter Day Convocation in Cramton Auditorium on Friday, March 4, 2016.

“There is no geographic quadrant, no place on the globe, nowhere in this world, that I’ve felt is more beautiful than Howard University,” Coates said.

In his remarks, Coates expressed deep appreciation to his predecessors, and encouraged today’s students to revel in the beauty and the empowering aspects of campus life.

“I knew that when I was here that I was not just experiencing a present beauty of an institution. I was experiencing the beauty of a heritage, going way, way back,” Coates said. “That put a pressure on me, a kind of responsibility. Beauty is not free.”

Coates majored in history and studied at Howard from 1993 to 1999. A national correspondent for The Atlantic, Coates published a memoir, The Beautiful Struggle, in 2008, and his New York Timesbest seller, Between the World and Me, in 2015. Coates is the recipient of the National Magazine Award and the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism. He received the George Polk Award for his Atlantic cover story, “The Case for Reparations.” In addition, Coates was presented the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation MacArthur Fellowship in 2015. Coates also received the highly acclaimed 2015 National Book Award for Between the World and Me.

This year’s Charter Day celebration marks the 149th anniversary of the charter enacted by the United States Congress and approved by President Andrew Johnson on March 2, 1867, that established Howard University.

VIEW GALLERY AND LISTEN TO FULL KEYNOTE

Ta-Nehisi Coates: National Book Award Winner

Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau/Penguin Random House) took home the 2015 National Book Award in Nonfiction.

Established in 1950, the National Book Award is an American literary prize administered by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization, in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature. Winners of the 66th National Book Award were announced at a lavish ceremony and benefit dinner at Cipriani’s in New York City on November 18. Winners in each category received a bronze sculpture and a purse of $10,000.

Coates’ other honors this year include the Kirkus Prize and the MacArthur “Genius” Grant. “Given the kind of year that Ta-Nehisi Coates has been having, it would be tough to consider his Between the World and Me anything less than a favorite to win the nonfiction prize,” says the National Book Foundation.

The 2015 Judges for nonfiction were Diane Ackerman, Patricia Hill Collins, John D’Agata, Paul Holdengräber, and Adrienne Mayor. All five writers appeared as National Book Awards Nonfiction finalists for the first time:

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau/Penguin Random House)
Sally Mann, Hold Still (Little, Brown/Hachette Book Group)
Sy Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus (Atria/Simon & Schuster)
Carla Power, If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran (Henry Holt and Company)
Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light (Alfred A. Knopf)

Coates is now in the company of a pantheon of writers that includes: William Faulkner, Ralph Ellison, John Cheever, Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, John Updike, Katherine Anne Porter, Norman Mailer, Elizabeth Bishop, Saul Bellow, Donald Barthelme, Flannery O’Connor, Adrienne Rich, Thomas Pynchon, Isaac Bashevis Singer, E. Annie Proulx, Alice Walker, and Charles Johnson.

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2015 NBA Non-Fiction Award Winner: Ta-Nehisi Coates (Full Speech)


 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the one hundred fifty years since the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, the story of race and America has remained a brutally simple one, written on flesh: It is the story of the black body, exploited to create the country’s foundational wealth, violently segregated to unite a nation after a civil war, and, today, still disproportionately threatened, locked up, and killed in our streets. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all—regardless of race—honestly reckon with our country’s fraught racial history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer those questions, presented in the form of a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his own awakening to the truth about history and race through a series of revelatory experiences: immersion in nationalist mythology as a child; engagement with history, poetry, and love at Howard University; travels to Civil War battlefields and the South Side of Chicago; a journey to France that reorients his sense of the world; and pilgrimages to the homes of mothers whose children’s lives have been taken as American plunder. Taken together, these stories map a winding path toward a kind of liberation—a journey from fear and confusion to a full and honest understanding of the world as it is. Masterfully woven from lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me offers a powerful new framework for understanding America’s history and current crisis, and a transcendent vision for a way forward.

 

Ta-Nehisi Coates: Multiple honors

Ta-Nehisi Coates is having a stellar year after the publication of Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau/Penguin Random House, 2015).

Visit these links to read each section:
Kirkus Prize, Winner
MacArthur “Genius” Grant, Winner
National Book Award for Nonfiction, Finalist


Kirkus Prize

Coates was honored with the Kirkus Prize in nonfiction at a ceremony in Austin, TX on October 15, 2015. This year’s judges praised Between the World and Me as “a formidable literary achievement and a crucial, urgent, and nuanced contribution to a long-overdue national conversation.”

Now in its second year, the Kirkus Prize honors writers who have received a starred review from the literary journal Kirkus Reviews. It is one of the richest literary awards in the world, awarding $50,000 to the writers in each literary category — nonfiction, fiction and young readers’ literature. The panel is composed of nationally respected writers and highly regarded booksellers, librarians and Kirkus critics.

Coates’ fellow honorees were Hanya Yanagihara (fiction) and Pam Muñoz (young readers’ literature). Their works were selected from a pool of 1,032 eligible books.

 

2015 MacArthur “Genius” Grant

Coates received a 2015 MacArthur “Genius” Grant for his journalism, which interprets “complex and challenging issues around race and racism through the lens of personal experience and nuanced historical analysis.”

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. The fellows are nominated then selected on three criteria: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

Coates joins 24 other MacArthur Fellows this year, among them MIT economist Heidi Williams. The fellows were chosen for “shedding light and making progress on critical issues, pushing the boundaries of their fields, and improving our world in imaginative, unexpected ways,” according to MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “Their work, their commitment, and their creativity inspire us all.”

Coates-tweet

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MacArthur Foundation Video

 

 

National Book Award for Nonfiction

On October 14, 2015, the National Book Foundation announced Coates’ Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau/Penguin Random House) as one of five finalists for the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction by the National Book Foundation.

Established in 1950, the National Book Award is an American literary prize administered by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization, in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature. Winners in each category will be announced at the National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner in New York City on November 18, 2015.

The 2015 Judges for nonfiction are Diane Ackerman, Patricia Hill Collins, John D’Agata, Paul Holdengräber, and Adrienne Mayor. All five writers appeared as National Book Awards Nonfiction finalists for the first time:

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau/Penguin Random House)
Sally Mann, Hold Still (Little, Brown/Hachette Book Group)
Sy Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus (Atria/Simon & Schuster)
Carla Power, If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran (Henry Holt and Company)
Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light (Alfred A. Knopf)


 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the one hundred fifty years since the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, the story of race and America has remained a brutally simple one, written on flesh: It is the story of the black body, exploited to create the country’s foundational wealth, violently segregated to unite a nation after a civil war, and, today, still disproportionately threatened, locked up, and killed in our streets. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all—regardless of race—honestly reckon with our country’s fraught racial history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer those questions, presented in the form of a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his own awakening to the truth about history and race through a series of revelatory experiences: immersion in nationalist mythology as a child; engagement with history, poetry, and love at Howard University; travels to Civil War battlefields and the South Side of Chicago; a journey to France that reorients his sense of the world; and pilgrimages to the homes of mothers whose children’s lives have been taken as American plunder. Taken together, these stories map a winding path toward a kind of liberation—a journey from fear and confusion to a full and honest understanding of the world as it is. Masterfully woven from lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me offers a powerful new framework for understanding America’s history and current crisis, and a transcendent vision for a way forward.

 

Fall 2014 Seminar Series

October 8, 2014
Dr. Coco Fusco
6-104
October 22, 2014
Dr. Calestous Juma
E62-350
November 5, 2014
Dr. James Mickens
10-105

MIT’s MLK Visiting Professors and Scholars Program welcomed its newest scholars with a luncheon on Wednesday, September 24, 2014. Organized by the Institute Community and Equity Office, the event kicked off a series of monthly lectures that showcase the research of these outstanding scholars. Invited members of the MIT community include colleagues, departmental hosts, and key Institute administrators.


2013-14 MLK Lunch Seminar Series

Temporal Distance and Discrimination: An Audit Study in Academia
Modupe Akinola, Management

Enhancing Genomic Research Through a Native Lens
LeManuel Lee Bitsoi, Harvard

Between The World and Me:
The Case for Reparations
Ta’Nehisi Coates, Writing

Storing Energy in Plastics
Julio M. D’Arcy, Chemical Eng.

Comparing The Legacies of MLK and Mahatma Gandhi
Miloon Kothari, DUSP

Past, Present, and Future of Antibiotics
Jason K. Sello, Biology

ET Might Write
Christopher Rose, EECS

Ebony and Ivy: A Survey of the History of Colleges and Slavery
Craig Wilder, History Chair

Visualizing Blackness
Sandy Alexandre, Literature
Ta’Nehisi Coates, Writing
Nelly Rosario, Writing
Craig Wilder, History Chair