Ta-Nehisi Coates in conversation at the Apollo, Sept. 23

Lapacazo Sandoval | 9/19/2019, 2:17 p.m.
“The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history. They were ...
Ta-Nehisi Coater

“The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history. They were people turned to fuel for the American machine.”―Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Between the World and Me”

This man—Ta-Nehisi Coates—is as brave as any warrior stepping into the violence and uncertainty of a bloody battlefield. His book “Between the World and Me” didn’t just become an international bestseller—no, his work demanded conversation because he told the truth with a matter-of-fact force that stunned the reader. He didn’t sugarcoat America. He didn’t sugarcoat Americans. He didn’t sugarcoat Black people or the horror of slavery then and now. He didn’t sugarcoat anything. Coates wrote a wake-up call that will keep ringing as long as there are Black and white people in this world. Such is the power of the truth.

“So you must wake up every morning knowing that no promise is unbreakable, least of all the promise of waking up at all. This is not despair. These are the preferences of the universe itself: verbs over nouns, actions over states, struggle over hope.”―Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Between the World and Me.”

Coates’ new book “The Water Dancer” is scheduled to be released later this year. To get the ball rolling, so to speak, The Apollo Theater will host the critically acclaimed writer, artist and thinker on the first leg of his national book tour for the aforementioned book on Monday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. with a special guest to be announced.

“The question is not whether Lincoln truly meant ‘government of the people’ but what our country has, throughout its history, taken the political term ‘people’ to actually mean.”―Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Between the World and Me.”

“The Water Dancer” explores America’s oldest struggle—the struggle to tell the truth. The book tells the story of Young Hiram Walker who was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her—but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known.

So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the Deep South to dangerously utopian movements in the North. Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram’s resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures.

This is the dramatic story of an atrocity inflicted on generations of women, men and children—the violent and capricious separation of families—and the war they waged to simply make lives with the people they loved. Written by one of today’s most exciting thinkers and writers, “The Water Dancer” is a powerful work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen.

Monday, Sept. 23 will also serve as Coates’s first program as Apollo Theater’s inaugural Artist-In-Residence. The three-year initiative, which will include events on the Apollo’s iconic stage and in the new Apollo spaces in the Victoria Theater in fall 2020, will further deepen the relationship between Coates and the nonprofit theater. In 2018, the Apollo collaborated with Coates on the world premiere staging of his award-winning book, “Between the World and Me,” directed by the Apollo’s executive producer, Kamilah Forbes.