Being Black at Iowa

A Deeper Black: Race in America

On Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 7:30PM at The Englert Theatre (directions) the University of Iowa will present "A Deeper Black: Race in America", a lecture by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent with The Atlantic and author of The Beautiful Struggle (excerpt). At the conclusion of the lecture, there will be a community conversation.

This event is free and open to the public -- doors open at 7pm. First come, first seated.

Join the conversation on Twitter by using the #blackatiowa hashtag.
View on After Class


Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most original and perceptive voices in black America—and one of our best writers, period. With rich emotional depth and a sonar sense of how pop culture, politics, and history shape discussions of diversity, Coates is “the young James Joyce of the hip hop generation” (Walter Mosley). His Atlantic cover story on slavery and race, "The Case for Reparations," is one of the most talked-about pieces of nonfiction in recent memory.

An Atlantic National Correspondent, Ta-Nehisi Coates has penned many influential articles. One of the most famous is "This is How We Lost to the White Man," a searingly honest look at the generational and ideological rifts in the black community; its title is a quote by Bill Cosby. Last year, Coates’s lively Atlantic blog—a lesson in how to thoroughly engage a community of readers—was named by Time as one of the 25 Best in the World.

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ critically hailed debut, The Beautiful Struggle, is a tough and touching memoir of growing up in Baltimore during the age of crack. It's also a vivid portrait of his father, a former Vietnam Vet and Black Panther who started his own underground black press, had seven children with four women, and dedicated his life to carrying his sons across the shoals of inner city adolescence. It's already a stone cold classic. Coates is currently writing his first novel, about an interracial family in pre-Civil War Virginia.  Coates is a former writer for The Village Voice, and a contributor to TimeO, and The New York Times Magazine. In 2012, he was awarded the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism. Judge Hendrik Hertzberg, of The New Yorker, wrote, “Coates is one of the most elegant and sharp observers of race in America. He is an upholder of universal values, a brave and compassionate writer who challenges his readers to transcend narrow self-definitions and focus on shared humanity.”
Coates is the Journalist in Residence at the School of Journalism at CUNY. He was previously the Martin Luther King Visiting Associate Professor at MIT.

Related upcoming events

“National Issues, Local Meanings: Ta Nehisi Coates and the Race Essay”

Wednesday, February 18 between 5:30-7 in Schaeffer Hall, Room 40 Sponsored by African American Studies/African American Council. 

In preparation for the visit of nationally syndicated columnist Ta Nehisi Coates, this panel will engage his essays “Barack Obama, Ferguson, and the Evidence of Things Not Said” and “The Case for Reparations.” We encourage the UI community to read these essays, there are links to them below, and to come out to discuss the link between problem-solving in our communities and broader racial dialogues in our nation and our world.

Panelists will include Deborah Whaley, associate professor, American Studies/African American Studies, Jessica Welburn, assistant professor, Sociology/African American Studies, and Michael Hill, associate professor, English/African American Studies.


Saturday, February 28, 2015 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Tickets Required

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.

2015 TEDxUIOWA speakers:
  • Reverend Willis Johnson
  • Wellspring Church, Ferguson, Missouri
  • Dr. H.S. Udaykumar
  • The University of Iowa
  • And more!

For more information, visit the TedX website.

Dialogue Circles with The Hubbard Group

Wednesday, March, 25th, 7:30-9 pm, Afro American Cultural Center
Wednesday, April 22nd, 7:30-9 pm, Afro American Cultural Center

What is the Hubbard Group? As a group of men affiliated with the University of Iowa as students, staff, and faculty, we seek to follow the legacy of Phillip G. Hubbard, the first tenured African American professor at the University of Iowa. In case you are unfamiliar with who we are and what we do, our goal is to offer programming, events, and services that meet three important objectives:

  • To foster a more inclusive community of learning and support for Black men
  • To provide educational resources to the University and Iowa City community about the various attitudes and performances that men of African descent embody
  • To increase the retention and success of Black men associated with the University of Iowa

Dialogue Circle Purpose: To offer a safe and brave space for intercultural dialogue. As Black men, it is our hope to also foster self-awareness and promote human dignity and respect for individual experiences in a world of difference.


Contact: The Hubbard Group

University Lecture Committee: Jeff Chang

April 2, 2015 at The Mill Restaurant

This lecture in association with the Mission Creek Festival.

Jeff Chang is the author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop (which won an American Book Award) and Who We Be: The Colorization of America. He was named by The Utne Reader as one of “50 Visionaries Who are Changing the World." He is also the founder of ColorLines, a website “where race matters”. 

For more information, visit the Lecture Committee Website.

Additional links

Ta-Nehisi Coates on The Colbert Report


View Video

Moyers & Company: "Facing the Truth: The Case for Reparations"

Full Transcript

The University of Chicago Institute of Politics: "The Case for Reparations"

MSNBC: "Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michael Steele on the Eric Garner decision"


The University of Iowa, Office of the Provost, Chief Diversity Office, Vice President for Student Life

Planning participants

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Sarah Hansen in advance at 319-335-3557