As we grapple with big questions about inequality, and racial justice, Michelle Coles says we can find strength, inspiration, and answers from the heroes who’ve come before us.
Michelle is both an accomplished civil rights attorney with a focus on social justice and the author of an award-winning YA novel on the forgotten heroism of Black Americans after the Civil War—she knows better than anyone how coming to terms with our past will help us to understand our present and fight for a better future. In her eye-opening talks, Michelle gives us a larger awareness of how oppressive systems are created and upheld, and inspires us to fight for justice no matter who we are.
Michelle is the author of Black Was the Ink, which Kirkus calls “a dynamic look at how the past informs the future.” The book follows a Black teenager who travels back in time to Reconstruction-era America and witnesses the achievements of Black statesmen fighting for freedom, after a traumatic experience of being racially profiled in the present day. Michelle wrote the novel to help her young sons make sense of the America they’re growing up in, and to show us that when we take ownership of our actions, we have the ability to be a powerful force for change.
Watch Michelle explain how forgotten heroes leave their mark here: