Please join the Washington University Alumni Association and Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement for a thought-provoking group discussion on the universally acclaimed Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Alumni and parents across St. Louis will meet to discuss the book this spring as part of the First Year Reading Program. Participants in the alumni and parents program will read the book and then gather to delve into complex issues and questions raised in the book. In the spirit of civic engagement, these discussions will foster dialogue, learning, and listening which are the foundation of strong communities.
If requested upon registration, you will receive one complimentary book per household after registering for your local discussion. If the event in your community is hosted at a private residence, you will receive the address in your confirmation materials. Space is limited, so register soon! (See below for city-specific registration details.)
The First Year Reading Program
For the past fourteen years, every new undergraduate student has participated in the First Year Reading Program. Students in the incoming class read the annual book selection over the summer and then engage in discussions with their peers and faculty members once they are on campus. The program introduces students to the spirit of inquiry, debate, and engaged citizenship integral to the Washington University academic community.
The Book Selection
The book selected for the Class of 2020 is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. In this exceptional and somber work, Coates, acclaimed author and journalist for The Atlantic, speaks through a letter to his son to explore the many—often tragic—experiences of being black in the United States of America.
Coates blends elements of memoir, symbolism, and historical ruminations to convey the fear black parents feel for their children, the fragility of the black body in the face of systemic violence, and the chances of achieving substantive racial progress in the 21st century. Continuing in the seminal style of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, Coates challenges the reader to observe the state of race in the US through a skeptical and critical lens, offering up the future as an ominous state of affairs for this generation to struggle with and shape.
Between the World and Me won the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction.