Taylor Branch connects the dots between civil rights and democracy in The King Years
Introduced at the 2013 National Book Festival by PBS Newshour's Emmy Award-winning National Affairs senior producer and arts correspondentJeffrey Brown, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Taylor Branch introduced his new book, The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement(Simon & Schuster; August, 2013), a compendium of eighteen events culled from the monumental The King Years trilogy, which included the prize-winner, Parting the Waters, followed by Pillar of Fire and At Canaan's Edge. Branch pointed to the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, sit-ins and protests by thousands of school-age, African-American children, who were assaulted by local police with tear gas, attack dogs, and fire hoses and then arrested, as the inspiration for a worldwide civil rights movement and the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964. Branch then traced the beginning of modern racial politics with speeches laced with racially-charged, so-called dog whistles, like 'big government' interfering in 'state's rights,' to Alabama Governor George Wallace's 1964 campaign for U.S. President. Branch wrapped his presentation by connecting the dots between civil rights and democracy before taking questions from the audience on the difference between past and present racial attitudes in the U.S.; public discourse on race during the Martin Luther King era; the impact of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI suppression of public discourse on race issues; the need for dialogue and learning history as pathways to diminishing racism; and the significance of Martin Luther King Day.
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