Author Ta-Nehisi Coates to speak at ETHS


Evanston Township High School will host We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy with Ta-Nehisi Coates at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, in the school auditorium.

A National Book Award-winning author, Coates in 2008 went from believing that a black president was impossible, to being challenged by the sudden prospect of one.

In his new book, “We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy,” Mr. Coates asks, “I remember how Obama caused me to question myself and my basic relationship with my country. All my life I had seen myself, and my people, backed into a corner, Had I been wrong?”

Part memoir, part polemic, Coates offers his intimate and revealing perspective – the point of view of a young writer who begins his journey in an unemployment office in Harlem and ends it in the Oval Office, interviewing Barack Obama.  

“We Were Eight Years in Power” is a personal narrative that examines the symbiosis of Obama’s influence on American culture, Coates’ intellectual and professional growth, and the inspiring new voices, ideas, and movements that emerged together over this period.

“We were eight years in power” was the lament of Reconstruction-era politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the rise of the Jim Crow South.

Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic, and author of the #1 bestseller “Between the World and Me,” winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and has received the National Magazine Award and the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Coates will be interviewed by ETHS Assistant Superintendent and Principal Marcus Campbell, Ed.D. At the conclusion of the presentation, the audience has the opportunity to participate in a discussion with Dr. Campbell, clinical psychologist Melissa Blount, and designer Ben Blount of Evanston.

RSVPs are not required for the FAN event or post-event discussion at ETHS. The line forms at 5 p.m. and doors open at 6 p.m. for the 7 p.m. event start time. Seating is first-come, first-served. Overflow seating is available.

The event, free and open to the public, is suitable for ages 12 and up.

ETHS is located at 1600 Dodge Ave., Evanston, 60201. The auditorium is wheelchair accessible. Guests should plan to arrive at least 20 minutes before 7 p.m. to find parking and seats. Parking is available in the lot across from the main entrance, off Dodge Avenue, or in the lots behind the high school.

The event is sponsored by Family Action Network,  in partnership with Baker Demonstration School, Chiaravalle Montessori School, Erikson Institute, Evanston Township High School, Francis W. Parker School, Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, New Trier Multifaith Alliance, North Shore Country Day School, and Youth and Opportunity United.

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