Before the fall semester even kicked off at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, incoming freshmen were asked to ponder race and privilege — and what they could do about it. On Friday, the public university’s freshmen orientation included a program called “First Class” that focused on the school’s common reading program selection “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Right-leaning scholars have described the book as positing that “America is not a nice place for black people to live,” and say it presents a “belief that white hatred of blacks pervades every aspect of American society, and nothing short of a revolution will end it.” With this book as a backdrop, freshmen were separated into small groups of about two dozen students each and asked to engage in “intense” conversations about the subject.  READ MORE