For Adults

McFadden Lecture Takeaways - Ta-Nehisi Coates

05/09/2019 | Programs & Events, Featured Event

Thank you to everyone who come out for the 2019 Marian McFadden Memorial Lecture with Ta-Nehisi Coates. Mr Coates is known for his work that challenges simple answers to complex questions about race in America. He said of himself, "I am a black writer and I write a lot about race." Coates shared his passion for both thinking deeply about the black experience as well as working hard as a writer to find the words to explain the truths he sees. "How can one explain what is deeper to people who haven't experienced it?"

Coates' disciplined approach to the craft of writing is evident in our list of 5 writing takeaways noted while listening to his remarks as well as his thoughtful responses to questions he invited from the audience:

1. Read. "The job of a writer consists of two things. Reading and writing. That’s it. I’d argue that it’s more important to read than to write."

2. Write. "Writing is a hands on discipline. You can’t theory or think your way there. You have to do it."

3. Practice. "Practice is just so important. You just have to keep writing over and over again. I rewrote Between the World and Me three times."

4. Understand writing as a transformation. "Between the World and me is a result of many years of trying to write something that sounded a certain way."

5. Writing is a trade. "Most people think that writing is a gift, writers are the ones who don't quit."

"I think we are moving in the right direction. Hollywood’s depiction of black people and race is improving. It’s not great but it is better. I am cautiously optimistic about where we are going.” ~ Ta-Nehisi Coates

What to read next:

For those of you who liked Black Panther, here are some movies, comics, books, and games that all feature black characters, both male and female, gifted with special powers, technology, or futuristic know-how that makes their stories fun and engaging for anyone. IndyPL_JosephL #indypladults

Luke Cage

The Complete First Season

Based on the original comic series, the invincible Luke Cage has been reimagined for a new era of superhero fans. Though a generally kind and decent person, Luke still has to contend with the law and villains looking to harm his extended family in the heart Harlem.

Black Lightning

The Complete First Season

Another more modern take on the classic DC hero, Black Lightning, the CW's retelling explores themes of family, responsibility, and the use of one's power present in Black Lightning's story in similar but more fantastic ways than his Marvel counterpart in Luke Cage.


Though not technically a superhero, the sci-fi epic of the black, vampire-slaying vampire Blade is still a Marvel property worth a watch. Particularly as a mirror to T'Challa's story of being forced to battle his own people, Blade's story takes a darker look at that same conflict.

If I could date my career as a writer back to one moment, it would be when I was six years old and my mother took me to the Library for the Summer Reading Program.” ~ Ta-Nehisi Coates

We hope you enjoyed the evening as much as we did. Again, thank you for joining us for a great night. We hope to see you at next year's Marian McFadden Memorial Lecture, an annual Library event bringing groundbreaking and best-selling writers to Indy since 1978.

The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation Logo

Thank you to the Friends of the Library and The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation for making the evening lecture as well as the student workshop possible. We are thankful to the Butler Arts Center for being wonderful hosts and to our moderator for the evening, Tamara Winfrey-Harris, CICF Vice President of Community Leadership and Effective Philanthropy.