Last week, the cover story of the June issue of The Atlantic incited a barrage of tweets, status updates and opinionated blog posts. Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor for the magazine, spent two years researching and writing an epic think piece entitled “The Case for Reparations” — which Bill Moyers calls “must reading for every American” — that began trending on Twitter and Facebook almost immediately after it went live.
In Bill’s interview, Coates reflected upon what has been the driving force in his journalism over the course of his career. In this clip, he recalls his childhood in Baltimore and an after-school fight that he witnessed in which another child brandished a gun in a 7-Eleven parking lot, and what went through his mind at that moment.
He tells Bill: “I knew that somewhere else in America children were not pulling out guns. I was very much aware of that — that the biggest worry a lot of kids had was making sure they had packed their number two pencil [or] attracting a popular girl in school, or whatever.
“And here I was, right outside my elementary school, somebody’s pulling out a gun. And it was very clear that that was different. And if there was something that animated my journalism over the years and my writing over the years it was: so what is that different thing? And how did that, why did that, happen?”