Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates.jpg
Coates delivering the keynote speech
at the University of Virginia's
2015 Community MLK Celebration
Born (1975-09-30) September 30, 1975 (age 39)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Occupation Writer, journalist, blogger
Genre Journalism, non-fiction, blogging, racism, politics, culture
Notable awards 2014 George Polk Award for commentary

Ta-Nehisi Coates (/ˌtɑːnəˈhɑːsi ˈkts/ TAH-nə-HAH-see KOHTS;[1] born September 30, 1975)[2] is an American writer, journalist, and educator. Coates is a senior editor for The Atlantic, and blogger for that publication's website, where he writes about cultural, social and political issues. Coates has worked for The Village Voice, Washington City Paper, and Time. He has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The Washington Monthly, O, and other publications. In 2008 he published a memoir, The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood. He joined the City University of New York as its journalist-in-residence in the fall of 2014.[3] His second book, Between the World and Me, was released in July 2015.

Early life, education, personal life[edit]

Coates grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. His father, William Paul Coates, was a Vietnam War veteran and former Black Panther. His mother, Cheryl, was the breadwinner in the family and his father was a stay-at-home dad who ran Black Classic Press, a small publishing house specializing in African-American studies[4] during Ta-Nehisi's childhood.[5] Ta-Nehisi's father had seven children.[6] Coates says that Ta-Nehisi is an Egyptian name for ancient Nubia.[7]

Coates had an interest in books at an early age and his mother punished bad behavior by making him write essays.[8] Coates attended a number of Baltimore-area schools, including Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, before graduating from Woodlawn High School.[9] After high school, he enrolled in Howard University but dropped out to become a journalist.[10][11] He currently resides in Harlem with his wife and son.[12] He is an atheist and a feminist.[13][14][15]


Coates at the 2010 Brooklyn Book Festival

In 2008, Coates published The Beautiful Struggle, a memoir about coming of age in West Baltimore and its effect on him.[16][17] In it, he discusses the influence of his father, a former Black Panther; the prevailing street crime of the era and its effects on his older brother;[18] his own troubled experience attending Baltimore-area schools;[9][19] and his eventual graduation and enrollment in Howard University.[9]

Coates is a senior editor at The Atlantic, for which he writes feature articles besides maintaining a blog. Topics covered by the blog include politics, history, race, culture as well as sports, and music. His writings on race, such as his September 2012 Atlantic cover piece "Fear of a Black President"[12][20][21] and his June 2014 feature "The Case for Reparations,"[22][23] have been especially praised, and have won his blog a place on the Best Blogs of 2011 list by Time magazine.[24] and the 2012 Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism from The Sidney Hillman Foundation.[12][25] Coates' blog has also been praised for its engaging comments section, which Coates curates and moderates heavily so that, "the jerks are invited to leave [and] the grown-ups to stay and chime in".[26][27][28]

Coates was the 2012–14 MLK visiting professor for writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a guest columnist for the New York Times, having turned down an offer from them to become a regular columnist.[12] He has also written for The Village Voice, Washington City Paper, Time, The Washington Post, the Washington Monthly and O magazine.[12][29]

Coates's second book, Between the World and Me, was published in July 2015.[30]




  • Coates, Ta-Nehisi (2009). The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood. Spiegel & Grau. 
  • — (2015). Between the World and Me. Spiegel & Grau. 

Essays and reporting[edit]

  • Coates, Ta-Nehisi (2009). "A Deeper Black". In Early, Gerald; Kennedy, Randall. Best African American Essays 2010. Random House. pp. 15–22. 
  • — (2013). "Fear of a Black President". In The American Society of Magazine Editors. Best American Magazine Writing 2013. Columbia University Press. pp. 3–32. 
  • — (June 2013). "Pardon my French". The Culture File. Travel. The Atlantic 311 (5): 44–45. Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  • — (June 2014). "The Case for Reparations". The Atlantic. 


  1. ^ Fresh Air, 2009 Feb 19 The name derives from the Egyptian name of Nubia, nḥsy, for which the vowels are unknown.
  2. ^ PBS NewsHour: "Brief But Spectacular"
  3. ^ Amy Dunkin, "Ta-Nehisi Coates Named Journalist-in-Residence for the Fall Semester", City University of New York, May 1, 2014.
  4. ^ Interview with Terry Gross on NPR's radio show Fresh Air.
  5. ^ Smith, Jeremy Adam. The Daddy Shift: How Stay-at-Home Dads, Breadwinning Moms, and Shared Parenting are Transforming the American Family. Boston: Beacon Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-8070-2120-0, p. 105.
  6. ^ Pride, Felicia. "Manning Up: The Coates Family's Beautiful Struggle in Word and Deed". Baltimore City Paper. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  7. ^ Morton, Paul. "An Interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates". Bookslut. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  8. ^ "One on 1 Profile: Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates Takes the Next Big Step in His Career". NY1. June 9, 2014. Retrieved June 12, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c Coates, Ta-Nehisi. The Beautiful Struggle. Spiegel & Grau. ISBN 978-0385520362. 
  10. ^ Felicia Pride (April 6, 2007). "Manning Up: The Coates Family's Beautiful Struggle in Word and Deed". Baltimore City Paper. 
  11. ^ "The guest list". Vibe, November 2004.
  12. ^ a b c d e Smith, Jordan Michael (March 5, 2013). "Fear of a Black Pundit: Ta-Nehisi Coates raises his voice in American media". New York Observer. Retrieved December 19, 2013. 
  13. ^ "The Myth of Western Civilization". The Atlantic. December 31, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Ta-Nehisi Coates on Twitter: "3. Contemporary feminist critiques (40s-60s) would be awesome, but basically taking what I can get now. #twitterstorians"". Twitter.com. December 29, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
  15. ^ "What Hath Feminism Wrought". The Atlantic. August 31, 2010. Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
  16. ^ George, Lynell. "Lessons from Dad". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  17. ^ Smith, Jordan Michael. "Fear of a Black Pundit". New York Observer. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  18. ^ Spalter, Mya. "Ta-Nehisi Coates' 'Beautiful Struggle' to Manhood". National Public Radio. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  19. ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi. "The Littlest Schoolhouse". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  20. ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (August 22, 2012). "Fear of a Black President". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 19, 2013. 
  21. ^ Levenson, Tom (September 28, 2012). "Notable narrative: "Fear of a Black President," by Ta-Nehisi Coates". Nieman Storyboard. Retrieved December 19, 2013. 
  22. ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (June 2014). "The Case for Reparations". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 20, 2014. 
  23. ^ Roig-Franzia, Manuel (June 18, 2014). "With Atlantic article on reparations, Ta-Nehisi Coates sees payoff for years of struggle". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 20, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Full List – The Best Blogs of 2011". Time magazine
  25. ^ "2012 Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism: Ta-Nehisi Coates". Sidney Hillman Foundation. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  26. ^ Garfield, Bob (December 30, 2011). "How to create an engaging comments section". On the media. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  27. ^ Azi, Paybarah (October 22, 2010). "NPR's guide to blogging: act like Andrew Sullivan, Ben Smith, Ta-Nehisi Coates". WNYC. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  28. ^ Matias, J. Nathan (October 22, 2012). "The beauty and terror of commenting communities: Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Media Lab". MIT Center for Civic Media. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Ta-Nehisi Coates is 2012–2013 MLK Visiting Scholar". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  30. ^ Jennifer Maloney (June 25, 2015). "Random House Moves Up Release of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Book on Race Relations". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 27, 2015. 
  31. ^ Donna M. Owens (January 29, 2015). "Baltimore-born Ta-Nehisi Coates makes his case". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2015-02-20. 
  32. ^ Staff (May 2, 2013). "The Atlantic Wins Two National Magazine Awards". The Atlantic. Retrieved June 10, 2015. 
  33. ^ Anemona Hartocollis (February 15, 2015). "Polk Awards in Journalism Are Announced, Including Three for The Times". New York Times. Retrieved February 20, 2015. 
  34. ^ MaryEllen Fillo (June 9, 2015). "Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates Humbly Accepts Award From Harriet Beecher Stowe Center". Hartford Courant. Retrieved June 26, 2015. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Ta-Nehisi Coates at Wikimedia Commons