Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Who is Prince Jones in Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates?

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Jules Cordry eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Prince Jones was a friend and Howard University classmate of author Ta-Nehisi Coates. (You can find a full summary of Coates's book Between the World and Me, including more about Prince Jones, in the eNotes study guide.) In 2000, twenty-five-year-old Jones was fatally shot by an undercover Prince George’s County police officer who followed him from PG County to Northern Virginia, where Jones had driven to visit his fiance. The shooting occurred only yards from Jones’s fiance’s home, and there were no witnesses. The officer in question later claimed that Jones had rammed his Jeep into the officer's undercover car. In his discussion of Jones’s death, which can be found in Part II of Between the World and Me, Coates notes that the officer had been tasked that day with looking for a five foot four, 250-pound African American man wanted for drug dealing, a description that didn’t apply to six foot three, 211-pound, notably upstanding and religious Prince Jones. Coates read about the shooting in the Washington Post a month after the birth of his son, and he and his partner, Kenyatta, later attended Jones’s memorial at Howard. The murder of Prince Jones—and the fact that the officer responsible was never charged—prompted Coates to research PG County’s history of police brutality. He recounts a visit to Jones’s mother, Dr. Mabel Jones, in Part III.

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James Phillips eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Between the World and Me was written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and published in 2015. It is a book-length letter written by the author to his son about the realities of life as a black man in the United States.

Prince Jones was a friend of Ta-Nehisi Coates at Howard University. He was born Rocky Jones and was the son of Dr. Mabel Jones. He was very well educated, attending private schools where he was an excellent student. He was a born again Christian and was said to be kind and well loved. Jones was shot and killed by a Prince George County police officer when he was twenty-five-years-old. He had a fiancee and a baby daughter. The circumstances surrounding his death are still uncertain and the police officer was never charged.

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