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Fred Shuttlesworth, Derrick Bell and Steve Jobs, three people who lived lives of meaning, are dead. It's terribly cliche, but at moments like these, I always think about The Flaming Lips "Do You Realize?" That line--"let them know you realize"--captures so much about those move through the world with aggression, determined to not just let life occur to them and around them.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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