Ta-Nehisi Coates Biography

(Author and Journalist Known for His Non-Fiction Books: ‘The Beautiful Struggle’ and ‘Between the World and Me’)

Birthday: September 30, 1975 (Libra)

Born In: Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is an American writer, journalist, columnist, and educator. Son of a 'Black Panther' member, he is a champion of the rights of the black community. Coates's life story is incredibly inspiring, as he did not lose hope even after losing three jobs and being forced to support his family with his unemployment checks. He expresses his concerns against discrimination through his writings. Coates gained national prominence as a correspondent for 'The Atlantic.' He also writes blogs for the publication. Several of his articles mention issues such as politics, society, and culture. Coates has contributed to many national publications, such as 'The Washington Post,' 'Time,' and 'The New Yorker.' His essays are critical of the American society, which to him, is plagued with racial bias, urban policing, and racial identity. Coates is now regarded as one of the most influential black intellectuals of the era.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates

Age: 48 Years, 48 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Kenyatta Matthews

father: William Paul Coates

mother: Cheryl Lynn (Waters)

children: Samori Coates

Born Country: United States

African American Authors Essayists

Notable Alumni: Woodlawn High School, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

City: Baltimore, Maryland

U.S. State: Maryland, African-American From Maryland

More Facts

education: Howard University, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, Woodlawn High School

awards: 2015 - MacArthur Fellowship
2015 · Between the World and Me - National Book Award for Nonfiction
2012 - Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism

2018 · World of Wakanda - GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book
2020 · The Water Dancer - Audie Award for Literary Fiction & Classics
2016 · Between the World and Me - PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay
2014 · The Case for Reparations - George Polk Award for Commentary
2015 · The Case for Reparations - Harriet Beecher Stowe Center Prize for Writing to Advance Social Justice
2013 · Fear of a Black President - National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism
2016 · Between the World and Me - NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work - Biography / Auto-biography

Childhood & Early Life
Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates was born on September 30, 1975, in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., to William Paul Coates, a librarian, entrepreneur, publisher, and 'Black Panther Party' member, and Cheryl Waters, a teacher. His father owned the 'Black Classic Press,' which re-published forgotten works of African–Americans authors.
Coates has a brother and five half-siblings from his father's other three relationships. He attended several schools in Baltimore, including the 'William H. Lemmel Middle School' and 'Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.' After graduating from the 'Woodlawn High School,' he joined 'Howard University' in 1993, where his father was a librarian. Coates, however, dropped out before receiving the degree.
Coates's love for reading eventually helped him develop his writing skills. His mother would often make him write essays as punishment. Coates began composing poetry at the age of 17. His father's publication, too, had a significant influence on him.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates was initially a reporter for 'The Washington City Paper.' He then wrote articles and columns for 'The Village Voice,' 'Philadelphia Weekly,' and 'Time' from 2000 to 2007. With the 'Time' article 'Obama and the Myth of the Black Messiah,' Coates took a practical approach to people's sentiments of choosing a "black" president in the hope of getting rid of poverty. In that context, he said, Obama is a ''black President, not black Jesus."
In 2008, he gained national prominence with the article 'This Is How We Lost to the White Man,' with which he made his debut for 'The Atlantic.' The report was critical of stand-up comedian Bill Cosby and “Black Conservatism.” The article earned Coates a full-time job with the journal. He soon began writing blogs for the 'The Atlantic' site and then became a senior editor for the journal.
Ta-Nehisi Coates's first book, his memoir 'The Beautiful Struggle,' was published in 2008. The book chronicled his life in West Baltimore and how his father's association with the 'Black Panther Party' influenced his black activism.
In September 2012, he wrote the article titled 'Fear of a Black President' for 'The Atlantic.' 'Time' featured his blog on the ''Best Blogs'' list. 'The Sidney Hillman Foundation' acknowledged him by presenting him the 2012 'Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism.' He praised Obama's comment on the death of Trayvon Martin in his essay published that year. He received the 2013 'National Magazine Award' for his essay ‘Fear of a Black President.'
In 2012, Ta-Nehisi Coates began his stint as the “Martin Luther King Visiting Professor” for writing at the 'Massachusetts Institute for Technology.' He quit in 2014 and became an in-house journalist at the 'City University of New York.'
That year, Coates attended a program in the French language at 'Middlebury College.' He had applied for a writing fellowship in Paris.
His June 2014 cover article 'The Case for Reparations' earned him the 'George Polk Award for Commentary,' a 'National Magazine Award,' and the 'Harriet Beecher Stowe Center Prize for Writing to Advance Social Justice' in 2015. He received the “American Library in Paris Visiting Fellowship” and the "Genius Grant" fellowship of the 'John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.'
In July 2015, Ta-Nehisi Coates's second book, 'Between the World and Me,' was published. The title of the book was inspired by a poem of the same name composed by Richard Wright, while the content drew inspiration from the tragic death of Coates's friend, Prince Carmen Jones Jr., whom the police had mistaken for someone else and shot. The bestseller received a 'National Book Award for Nonfiction' and a 'Kirkus Prize.'
Coates became a “MacArthur Fellow” and received the ‘PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay' in 2016. That year, he released the first volume of his comic series based on the 'Marvel' superhero 'Black Panther,' which again depicted discrimination against the blacks.
In 2016, he became a 'Phi Beta Kappa' member at the 'Oregon State University.'
In 2017, Coates released a collection of essays titled 'We Were Eight Years in Power' (2017), which also included some of his articles written for 'The Atlantic.'
Ta-Nehisi Coates's first novel, 'The Water Dancer,' was published in 2019. He collaborated with ‘HBO’ for a series called 'America in the King Years,' which revolved around the life of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.
Personal Life
“Ta-Nehisi” is an Egyptian word for ''Nubia,'' a region along the Nile, also known as the “land of the black.” Being a black activist, his father named him so in the hope of turning him into a leader of the black community someday.
Growing up, Coates enjoyed reading comic books and 'Dungeons & Dragons.'
Ta-Nehisi Coates met his future wife, Kenyatta Matthews, while studying at 'Howard University.' In 2009, they lived in Harlem with their son, Samori Maceo-Paul Coates. In 2001, the family moved to Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn, New York. He bought a brownstone there in 2016.
Coates named his son “Samori Maceo-Paul,” continuing with his family’s history in activism. While the name “Samori” was inspired by Samori Ture, a prominent Mandé chief from the French colonial days, “Maceo-Paul” was inspired by black Cuban revolutionary Antonio Maceo Grajales and Coates's father.
Coates is a non-believer and a feminist.
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