USD Just Read!

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

USD Just Read! Encourages literacy and deep dialogue on social themes presented through outstanding literature. The program promotes active learning and reading not only within the USD community but within the San Diego community at large. During the 2017-2018 academic year, the book selection will be Between the World and Me, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Various CEE programs will be offered this fall, including two on-campus book discussions, a faculty led panel discussion, and related films.

Please contact us if you are interested in possible programming, course and syllabus integration, or any other collaborative projects for next year.

More information regarding USD Just Read! events is available on our specific
USD Just Read! page.

More information about our Just Read! Faculty Integration Award

More information about our Just Read! Student Essay Contest

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Image of Author Ta-Nehisi Coates



“In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, from his time at Howard University to the Civil War, the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that plague modern society. In this short memoir, the "Atlantic" writer explains that the tragic examples of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and those killed in South Carolina are the results of a systematically constructed and maintained assault to black people--a structure that includes slavery, mass incarceration, and police brutality as part of its foundation. From his passionate and deliberate breakdown of the concept of race itself to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, Coates powerfully sums up the terrible history of the subjugation of black people in the United States. A timely work, this title will resonate with all teens--those who have experienced racism as well as those who have followed the recent news coverage on violence against people of color.”

Summary courtesy of Good Reads

About the Author


 "Many of us have known for years that Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of America’s most compelling and thoughtful voices. His timely, provocative and well-researched writings about race and this nation’s shameful history of inequality have been essential reading. The Atlantic published his widely distributed “The Case for Reparations” in 2014, and new audiences began to take notice. When his best-selling second book was released last summer, it seemed everyone came to understand that he is the real deal. Between the World and Me is brilliantly structured, insightful and forcefully argued. He navigates the complexities and burdens of race in America compassed by a father’s love for his son. But it’s the soulful writing that makes the work a classic, prompting Toni Morrison to herald Coates as America’s new James Baldwin and the MacArthur Foundation to announce his genius. He claimed the National Book Award for best nonfiction this year, but don’t think that this is the culmination of his work. He has much more to say, and we will all be the wiser for reading it."

Courtesy of of Time

Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most original and perceptive black voices today—“the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States” ( New York Observer). Coates is the author, most recently, of Between the World and Me, the #1 New York Times bestseller that “will be hailed as a classic of our time” ( Publishers Weekly) and which Toni Morrison calls “required reading.” 

Coates’s debut book, The Beautiful Struggle, is a tough and touching memoir of growing up in Baltimore during the age of crack. In 2012, Coates 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.”

A former Village Voice writer, 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, and has been awarded the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism. He is the winner of a 2015 MacArthur Fellowship. 

“I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates. The language of Between the World and Me, like Coates’ journey, is visceral, eloquent and beautifully redemptive. And its examination of the hazards and hopes of black male life is as profound as it is revelatory. This is required reading.”

- Toni Morrison

His book Between the World and Me is written in the form of a letter to his teenage son, Samori. In 160 pages, it moves from Baltimore to Howard University to New York City to Paris, France, addressing what it means to be black in America. Slate calls it, “a book destined to remain on store shelves, bedside tables, and high school and college syllabi long after its author or any of us have left this Earth.”

An Atlantic National Correspondent, Coates has written many influential articles, including “My President Was Black,” a cover story that examined the legacy and impact of the first black presidency, and “The Case for Reparations,” which reignited the long-dormant conversation of how to repay African-Americans for a system of institutional racism that’s robbed them of wealth and success for generations. New York called the George Polk Award-winning cover story “probably the most discussed magazine piece of the Obama era.” 

 Credit: Lavin Agency

Between the World and Me Blackboard Organization 

A Blackboard Organization has been set up to reference and share resource materials related to this year’s USD Just Read selection.

All USD faculty and staff are welcome to become members. If you are interested in having access to this Blackboard Organization, contact the CEE by phone (619-260-7402) or email ( and request to be enrolled. If already enrolled, steps on how to access the 2017 - 2018 USD Just Read! See the Blackboard Organization page for more information. 

Here are Some of the Key Collaborators for Events Related to USD Just Read!

Center for Educational Excellence, School of Business Administration, College of Arts and Sciences, Student Affairs, Provost Office, Center for Community Service Learning, Center for Peace & Commerce, Office of Sustainability, Changemaker HUB, Center for Inclusion & Diversity, University Communications, Media and Digital Communications, Copley Library, Human Resources, Kroc School, United Front Multicultural Center, Ahlers Center for International Business, University Ministry, Associated Students, Office of Parent Relations, Office of Alumni Relations, Living Learning Communities: Honors, Change, Faith & Reason.


Between the World and Me  Resources


USD Just Read! September Newsletter

Between the World and Me Flyers

USD Just Read! 2017-2018 Book Selection Announcement 


The Atlantic “’Between the World and Me’ Book Club: Two Texts Masquerading as One”

Book Reviews

The New York Times

The Guardian

The New Yorker

Classroom Materials

Medium - Nicole Zhu’s published class notes for African American Studies course titled “Intro to Black Social and Political Life.”

New York University - “The Learning of Culture” course syllabus offered through Sociology department

Penguin Random House - This resource provides access to pre-reading and classroom activities.

Scribd - Common Reading Guide provides access to discussion questions for Between the World and Me. Resource was created by Penguin Random House and is distributed as part of the Common Reading program.

Tufts University - “Stranger in the Village: Race, Nation, and Belonging in History and Film” course syllabus offered through Africana Studies, History, Drama, & Dance departments.

UCLA First Year Experience - This resource provides access to reading, teaching, and research guides in addition to discussion questions for Between the World and Me.

University of Oregon - “Black Lives Matter” course syllabus offered through Political Science department.

Washington University in St. Louis - This resource outlines Washington University in St. Louis’ programming for their First Year Reading Program. This includes BlackBoard assignments, reader’s guides and other links/resources.

West Los Angeles College - English 100 course syllabus.

Xavier University Library Guide

Interviews & Podcasts

Longform Podcast

NPR: Ta-Nehisi Coates On Police Brutality, The Confederate Flag And Forgiveness

Slate Book Discussion on Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates in Conversation with David Remnick