Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reflections on the Ta-Nehisi Coates visit

Ta-Nehisi Coates's visit and discussion on our campus has been receiving positive feedback. Here are a few statements by members of our crew.

I found Coates' visit especially valuable to black males and underrepresented students in general. It is rare that we have a visit from an accomplished African-American author. Hearing him speak and his very presence on campus was both enlightening (as far as content) and symbolically encouraging and refreshing. --Dometi Pongo
During my undergraduate years, as well as my current graduate studies, it was rare that Black intellectuals were invited to speak on campus. I found Coates’s visit particularly helpful because it exposed our collegiate community to a Black voice that does more than entertain; he offered legitimate food for thought on an array of cultural topics. Being a minority on our campus and even more so as a graduate student, it was comforting to see the university acknowledge a cultural scholar and great thinker who looks like me. I find a sort of identity affirmation and solidarity in that. --Cindy Lyles

As a grad student in History and Museum Studies, I really enjoyed Coates's perspective and interest in Civil War history. Prior to grad school, my knowledge of the Civil War was rather limited. Coates mentioned visiting several CW battles sites and re-enactments. These cultural spaces are not made for black people: 1.) because we don't really visit these sites and 2.) we're not really written into the "script." So, black people are essentially nonexistent in the history of the War that was about black people or as DuBois would say "the Negro Problem in America." Coates's interest in black soldiers and the stories that aren't told and histories that get overlooked really stood out to me from the perspective of a historian. --Danielle Hall

Upon meeting Coates, I could tell that the man had a lot a knowledge. He spoke with authority and a sense to teach the audience a lesson about history that needed to be learned. What I really appreciated about Coates was his ability to connect with those of us of the younger generation. --Vince Manuel

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