James Coleman - Obituary

CLA Member and UNC Professor James W. Coleman (October 11, 1946—October 24, 2019) was raised in Supply, Virginia by parents James Coleman and Lucy Fortune-Coleman. He loved reading as a child and learned to recite linguistic pieces at an early age. Dr. Coleman earned his B.A. degree from Virginia Union University and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago.

He spent 16 years as a professor of English at Colorado College, a private college in Colorado Springs, a year as a Visiting Professor of English at San Diego State University, and 30 years as a professor of African American Literature in the English Department at UNC-Chapel Hill. An avid runner, he jogged through the streets of Chapel Hill daily, despite the weather, in his trademark Asics Running shoes, until his health became impaired.

His books include Blackness and Modernism: The Literary Career of John Edgar WidemanBlack Male Fiction and the Legacy of CalibanFaithful Vision: Treatments of the Sacred, Spiritual, and Supernatural in Twentieth-Century African American FictionUnderstanding Edward P. Jones; and Writing Blackness: John Edgar Wideman’s Art and Experimentation.

He is survived by two adult sons, James Henry (Jay) Coleman of Cary and William Lee (Lee) Coleman of Charlotte, their mother, Evelyn Dove-Coleman of Kinston, and relatives, friends, and colleagues who will remember him for his decades of scholarship and teaching. Access the full obituary here.