On Wednesday, Baltimorean genius Ta-Nehisi Coates won the National Book Award for Between the World and Me, his much-lauded meditation on race and violence in contemporary America. The very next day, he visited Baltimore to speak at Johns Hopkins.
Coates’s speech at the NBAs centered on the story of his childhood friend who was killed by police, a theme he also touched on during his Hopkins talk. That personal story served as a lens through which to view racism, police violence, and the law. “Members of the audience broke in during his talk to applaud as well, as if it were the State of the Union address, and Coates the president,” the Hopkins Hub reported. You can read a fuller account of Coates’s talk, including his explanation of why he’s not an activist and how writer’s block doesn’t exist, here.
This was Coates’s second lecture at Hopkins in 2015; the first took place this past spring, shortly after the unrest that swept the city in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death in police custody. Here’s hoping the university has signed him up for a one-speech-a-semester deal in perpetuity.
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