We Were Eight Years in Power Characters
by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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We Were Eight Years in Power Characters

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy is a collection of essays written by the contemporary African American author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates. The title refers to the eight years during which Barack Obama was President of the United States, and the essays within this collection were all written and individually published in the magazine the Atlantic during Obama's presidency. While there is a variety of subjects that Coates delves into, the overarching focus of the collection is social and political issues of race in the US, often in connection to having a black man being president for the first time in the country's history.

Because it is a collection of essays, rather than a book with a fictional plot line, there are not any characters in We Were Eight Years in Power. However, an integral element in all eight of these essays is Coates's discussion of real public figures, including (but not limited to) politicians, celebrities, activists, and scholars. For example, the first essay in the collection, which is titled "This is How We Lost to the White Man," focuses on actor Bill Cosby as part of the conservative black movement, his belief that "black self-reliance" is more important than "some abstract notion of equality," and where this belief stems from. As would be expected from their titles, both "My President Was Black" and "Fear of a Black President" (as well as other essays in the collection) focus heavily on Obama and different aspects of his presidency.