Ta-Nehisi Coates visits Richmond to talk emancipation, race

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates visited the Virginia Museum of History and Culture on Friday as a stop on his book tour. Photo by Wessam Hazaymeh

Iman Mekonen, Spectrum Editor

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates, who is best known for his books “Between the World and Me,” “We Were Eight Years in Power” and “The Beautiful Struggle,” visited the Virginia Museum of History and Culture on Friday to participate in a conversation about emancipation, slavery and its effects on African American culture.

The event was titled “Legacies of Emancipation,” hosted by the American Civil War Museum and moderated by CEO Christy Coleman.

“Black unfreedom in the country is quite normal, and is, in fact, at the roots of what this country is,” Coates said. “Mass incarceration isn’t some weird sort of, human rights failure that springs out of nowhere.”

The night consisted of a thorough discussion starting on emancipation and weaving through topics such as mass incarceration, disenfranchisement, violence and slavery.

Present along with Coates was Manisha Sinha, a professor from the University of Connecticut. 

“And I think that it really is the legacy of slavery, that we’re constantly re-hashing,” Sinha said. “So when people tell me, ‘It happened so long ago, it has no effect’ and actually, that’s simply not true. We can see it unfolding before our very eyes.” 

Coates is currently promoting the release of his debut fiction novel, “The Water Dancer,” which takes place during the time of slavery. The novel was chosen as this year’s selection for Oprah’s Book Club.

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