Monday, January 13, 2014

Pulitzer Prize Winning Author and Historian to Speak at UM Crookston

CROOKSTON, Minn. – Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian Taylor Branch will present “Civil Rights Then and Now: Reflections on the King Years” in the Kiehle Auditorium at the University of Minnesota Crookston on Monday, January 20, 2014, at 7 p.m. The event is free and all are welcome.  A book signing will be held in Kiehle 124 following the presentation and books by Branch will be available for purchase on site. Branch also will speak on Tuesday, January 21 at 10 a.m. at the Lake Agassiz Regional Library in Crookston as part of his visit.

About Taylor Branch

Taylor Branch is an American author and public speaker best known for his landmark narrative history of the civil rights era, America in the King Years. The trilogy’s first book, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63, won the Pulitzer Prize and numerous other awards in 1989. Two successive volumes also gained critical and popular success: Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65, and At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1968. Decades later, all three books remain in demand.

In the October 2011 issue of The Atlantic, Branch published an influential cover story entitled “The Shame of College Sports,” which author and NPR commentator Frank Deford said “may well be the most important article ever written about college sports.”  The article touched off continuing national debate. 

Aside from writing, Branch speaks before a variety of audiences—colleges, high schools, churches, synagogues, mosques, political and professional groups. He has discussed doctrines of nonviolence with prisoners at San Quentin as well as officers at the National War College. He has presented seminars on civil rights at Oxford University and in sixth-grade classrooms. His 2008 address at the National Cathedral marked the 40th anniversary of Dr. King’s last Sunday sermon from that pulpit. In 2009, he gave the Theodore H. White Lecture on the Press and Politics at Harvard.

Branch began his career in 1970 as a staff journalist for The Washington Monthly, Harper’s, and Esquire. He holds honorary doctoral degrees from ten colleges and universities. Other citations include the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 and the National Humanities Medal in 1999. More information is available at

Recent Work

In Branch’s latest book, The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement (Simon & Schuster), Branch has identified eighteen essential moments from the Civil Rights Movement, and providing selections from his trilogy, has placed each moment in historical context with a newly written introduction.  The captivating result is a slender but comprehensive view of America in the turbulent, transformative 1960s, by our nation’s foremost authoritative voice on the subject.


This activity is funded, in part, by a grant from the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council and the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund appropriated by the Minnesota Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008. Other sponsors include the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, the Lake Agassiz Regional Library, Crookston High School, and Academic Affairs, Campus Ministry, Concerts & Lectures, Honors Program, and Career and Counseling at the U of M Crookston. 

Earlier in the day of activities in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., designed around the theme "Faces of Civil Rights: It isnt' just a Black Thing" will take place. The day marks a Red River Valley Celebration of Dr. King with events at the University of North Dakota and the University of Minnesota Crookston throughout the day.