Ta-Nehisi Coates

photo credit Nina Subin

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Literary Arts

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Past Event: Thursday, October 29, 2015

At McCaw Hall — Susan Brotman Auditorium

Co-Presented by The Seattle Times. Sponsored by Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Judy Pigott, KPLU 88.5 FM, KUOW 94.9 FM, Reed, Longyear, Malnati & Ahrens, PLLC, Seattle Met, and the Seattle Office for Civil Rights.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a memoirist, journalist, blogger and educator. He is a national correspondent for The Atlantic, and one of the most original and perceptive voices on black America. With rich emotional depth and a sonar sense of how pop culture, politics, and history shape discussions of diversity, Coates is “the young James Joyce of the hip hop generation” (Walter Mosley).

There will not be a book signing for this event. However, Coates’ books will be for sale in the lobby. This event will be a conversation-style event moderated by Vivian Phillips.

Coates’s newest book Between the World and Me was released July 14th. Toni Morrison said, “I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates. The language of Between the World and Me, like Coates’ journey, is visceral, eloquent and beautifully redemptive. And its examination of the hazards and hopes of black male life is as profound as it is revelatory. This is required reading.”

A recent article in The Seattle Review of Books includes this description of Between the World and Me: “What Coates does in Between the World and Me is he shakes out the vocabulary of racism, discards the metaphors and definitions that no longer work, and offers up a new framework for talking about race. This is a book that will alter the course of conversation for decades to come; people will be inspired by it and argue with it and learn from it and reassess it for generations. it’s not every year — hell, it’s not every decade — that you can comprehend a new book’s importance on a first reading. This is one of those books. You will not like what Coates has to tell you, but you will be so grateful to him for sharing it.”

Coates has worked for The Village Voice, Washington City Paper, and Time Magazine. He has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, the Washington PostThe Washington Monthly, O, and other publications.

At The Atlantic, Coates writes feature articles while maintaining a blog. Topics covered by the blog include politics, history, race, and culture as well as sports and music. His writings on race, such as his September 2012 Atlantic cover piece “Fear of a Black President” and his June 2014 feature “The Case for Reparations,” have been especially praised, and have won his blog a place on the Best Blogs of 2011 list by Time magazine and the 2012 Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism from The Sidney Hillman Foundation. Coates’ blog has also been praised for its engaging comments section, which he curates and moderates heavily so that, “the jerks are invited to leave and the grown-ups to stay and chime in”.

In 2008 he published, The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, a memoir about coming of age in West Baltimore and its impact on him. He poignantly discusses the influence of his father, a former Black Panther, the prevailing street crime of the era and its effects on his older brother, his own troubled experience attending Baltimore-area schools, and his eventual graduation and enrollment in Howard University.

He joined the City University of New York as its journalist-in-residence in the fall of 2014.


Selected Works:

“The Case for Reparations” (2014) – The Atlantic – Winner of the 2014 George Polk Award
“Fear of a Black President” (2013) – Best American Magazine Writing
“A Deeper Black” (2009) – Best African American Essays 2010

Between the World and Me (2015)
The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons and an Unlikely Road to Manhood (2008)


New York Magazine: The Hard Truths of Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic
The Atlantic: The Case for Reparations
Columbia Journalism Review: Ta-Nehisi Coates defines a new race beat
New Republic: Q&A: Ta-Nehisi Coates on Reparations, Ignorant Journalism, and Whether He Talks to President Obama
MIT News: Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates dazzles during two years as an MLK Visiting Scholar
Advice on Writing From The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates

Event Details

McCaw Hall — Susan Brotman Auditorium

321 Mercer St
Seattle, WA 98109

View directions.

This event will take place in the Susan Brotman Auditorium, the largest event space in McCaw Hall. The main entrance to the hall is on the north side of the building facing Mercer Street.

Transportation & Parking

By Car

  • From I-5
    Take Mercer Street exit (exit 167) and go straight onto Mercer Street westbound. Turn right onto 4th Avenue. Turn left to park in the Seattle Center Mercer Street Garage.
  • From Aurora/Hwy 99 Northbound
    Take the Western Avenue exit. Continue straight on Western Avenue. Turn right onto Battery Street. Turn left onto 1st Avenue. Turn right on Mercer Street. Continue down Mercer Street to drop off patrons directly in front of McCaw Hall, or turn left on 3rd or 4th Avenues to park in the Seattle Center Mercer Street Garage.
  • From Aurora/Hwy 99 Southbound
    Exit right on Roy Street. Turn left on 3rd Avenue North. Turn left to park in the Seattle Center Mercer Street Garage or proceed to the corner of 3rd Avenue and Mercer Street, turn left and proceed immediately to the far right lane to drop off patrons directly in front of McCaw Hall.

By Bus
Bus routes with Seattle Center stops include: 1, 2, 3, 4, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 24, 33, and 82. For more information about the routes nearest you, call Metro’s 24-hour Rider Information hotline at (206) 553-3000 or visit Metro online.

Parking is available at the Mercer Street Garage, conveniently located across the street from McCaw Hall. A covered skybridge provides easy access between level C of the garage and McCaw Hall.

Other garages and parking options are:

  • Fisher Plaza Garage, located in the KOMO Plaza on 4th Avenue N, between Broad St and John St. The entrance is at 451 John St. The quickest way to get to McCaw Hall from here is to walk across the Seattle Center campus, starting from the Space Needle.
  • 5th Avenue North Garage, located at the corner of 5th Avenue and Harrison Street. This is the first garage you will encounter after exiting I-5 and turning onto Harrison Street. It is a 3-block walk to McCaw Hall from this garage.
  • Surface lots are available on either side of Mercer Street between 3rd and 1st Avenues.
  • Southwest Seattle Center garages, for those willing and able to make the short walk across the Seattle Center campus, there are garages located on 1st Avenue North between Thomas and John Streets (south of KeyArena), at the corner of Warren Avenue North and Denny Way (adjacent to the church), and on 2nd Avenue North and Denny Way (adjacent to Pacific Science Center).


SAL is for everyone. We want all audience members to be able to experience our lectures and readings regardless of accessibility concerns. Accessibility services at our venues are provided at no cost to ticket holders. If you find you need to sit closer to the stage to accommodate your needs but find the cost of a Patron ticket prohibitive, then please contact us—we will seat you where you need to be, regardless of cost.

Open Captioning occurs at every event that takes place at Benaroya Hall. It is also always available upon request for all events in our other halls, with a two-week minimum notice. To make a request for Open Captioning services, please contact us at boxoffice@lectures.org or 206.621.2230×10.

Assisted Listening Devices, including Hearing Loop Assisted Listening Systems, are available at all of our venues, with the exception of Broadway Performance Hall. If you would like more information, please contact us at boxoffice@lectures.org or 206.621.2230×10.

ASL-Interpretated Events are always available upon request, with a two-week minimum notice. To make a request for ASL interpretation, please contact us at boxoffice@lectures.org or 206.621.2230×10.

Wheelchair Accessible Ticketing is available in all sections at our venues, and and our venues are fully accessible to ticket holders with physical mobility concerns. If you would like more information, please contact us at boxoffice@lectures.org or 206.621.2230×10.

For any further questions or requests, or to offer Seattle Arts & Lectures feedback on how we can be more accessible and inclusive, please reach out to our Patron Services Manager at boxoffice@lectures.org or 206.621.2230×10.