He has not signed on with a competing publication. “It was this or nothing,” the 42-year-old Coates told the Erik Wemple Blog. “I didn’t have anything else.”

In a note to staff, top Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg wrote, in part, “Our colleague, and dear friend, Ta-Nehisi Coates is stepping down as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. As he has explained to me — and as he’s written in the recent past — the last few years for him have been years of significant changes. He’s told me that he would like to take some time to reflect on these changes, and to figure out the best path forward, both as a person and as a writer.”

For the past several years, the path has been all forward for Coates. So forward, indeed, that it’s easy to forget that a decade ago, he had been laid off by Time magazine and was looking a place to land. With some assistance from David Carr, Coates did some blogging work for the Atlantic and was hired by James Bennet in 2008. “Saved my life,” said Coates. (Coates was a former colleague of the Erik Wemple Blog at the Washington City Paper.)

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