The letter brings attention to several important characters. Here is what one needs to know about them.
Ta-Nehisi Coates: The Author
He is the main character of this book. He was born in 1975. His parents are Cheryl Waters and Paul Coates. Ta-Nehisi grew up in Baltimore, and his childhood has been filled with full of views of danger in the street that makes him raise questions about the sense of justice in the world. He attends Howard but does not graduate. He meets Kenyatta Mathews here, and they have a son together. Coates furthers his career in writing. He is an atheist and a harsh realist, relentless in unveiling truth.
Kenyatta is Samori’s mother and the author’s partner. Kenyatta and Coates met at Howard University. At the age of 24, they have their son. Kenyatta is revealed to have been brought up in a white neighborhood. This made her reject the dream early on, and therefore, her life is an enthusiastic journey full of adventure.
Samori Coates: The son
He is son of Kenyatta and Ta-Nehisi. He was at the age of 15 when the book was written. He was named after Samori Toure, a famous freedom fighter from Guinea. The book is a letter addressed to Samori. He does not play a big role in it, but the author characterizes him as a sensitive and curious child who is getting to realize what it means to be a black man in America.
He is the classmate of Kenyatta and Coates. He was killed by a police officer from Georgia County while still young. Prince is described to have been an intelligent and charming young man who was privileged going up. Prince is described to have been religious and kind, but his traits and background could not save him from the untimely death.
Dr. Mabel Jones
She is the Mother of Prince. She had grown up in poverty. She established herself in school where she was class president and a star on the tracks. She comes from slave ancestry but worked her way up through school and even joined the navy for a while to later become the chief radiologist. She is elegant, tenacious, and in control. She is sorrowful following the death of her son.
Paul Coates: Author’s Father
He is portrayed to be a tough father who disciplined Ta-Nehisi in his childhood while also providing important teachings on how to survive and navigate the unjust world. Paul was a former member of the Black Panther party and later worked at the library in Howard.