The harsh truths of racism, police violence and what it’s like to be Black in America will soon be digested even further when Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me is adapted by HBO this fall.

HBO announced Thursday that the TV special, directed by Apollo Theater executive producer Kamilah Forbes, will feature readings from Coates’ bestselling letter to his son. Executive produced by both Coates and This Is Us star Susan Kelechi Watson the special will feature documentary and archival footage along with animation. 

“I’ve been working with Kamilah for almost as long as I’ve been a writer,” Coates said in a statement. “I can think of no one better to put Between the World and Me on screen and no better home for it than HBO.”

Coates’ award-winning book, which was published in 2015, is an open letter to his adolescent son about what to expect as a Black person living in the United States. Inspired by a 2013 encounter with President Obama, it lays the foundation of history through the unique perspective of a Black man to his child, who may not yet fully understand the spoken and unspoken rules of white supremacy and how its woven through the fabric of this country.

“As people across our country continue to speak out about violent, systemic racism and the urgent need for tangible change, Ta-Nehisi’s words resonate as strongly today as they did five years ago,” said Forbes. “I’m excited to collaborate again with both Ta-Nehisi and HBO on this important special event, ensuring that the powerful voices in this work, and cry for justice from the Black community, continues to reach a broader audience.”

In addition to producing the special, HBO will be making a charitable donation to Howard University and the Apollo Theater.


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