Contact: Debra Rubino
As part of OSI-Baltimore’s “Talking About Race” series, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Taylor Branch will discuss his new book of essays drawn from his King trilogy about the turbulent, transformative 1960s.
What: As part of OSI-Baltimore’s “Talking About Race” series, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch will discuss his upcoming new book,The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement, and the importance of making history accessible for today’s youth. He will be joined by educators Traci L. Wright, upper school dean of students at The Park School of Baltimore, and Karen Webber-Ndour, executive director of student support services for Baltimore City Public Schools.
When: 7 p.m., Tuesday Jan. 29, 2013
Where: Enoch Pratt Free Library
400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore
BALTIMORE—Taylor Branch is the bestselling author of the award-winning trilogy profiling Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement. His books include Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63; Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65; At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1968; and The Clinton Tapes. He has won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
But as much as his chronicling of the 1960s endures as a masterpiece of storytelling on American race, violence and democracy, educators and others note that many young people still have little understanding of the importance of that time period in our nation’s history.
“For nearly 25 years,” Branch says, “since publication of Parting the Waters, teachers have pressed upon me their need for more accessible ways to immerse students in stories of authentic detail and import. The goal here is to accommodate them and others by careful choice.”
In his new, single-volume book, Branch—who is a member of OSI-Baltimore’s Board of Directors—has selected 18 essential moments from the civil rights movement as presented in his America in the King Years trilogy, and has written new introductions to set each passage in historical context.
As part of the Enoch Pratt Library and OSI-Baltimore’s “Talking About Race” series, Branch will discuss this new work, illuminating fresh insights and enduring lessons from that pivotal period in American history.
“It’s valuable to hear from someone as knowledgeable and thoughtful about the civil rights movement as Taylor Branch, so that we understand the formal and informal barriers to justice and opportunity that African Americans confronted,” says OSI-Baltimore director Diana Morris. “And with this understanding of our shared history, we can be in a better position to continue to try to remove these barriers.”
Morris and Branch both agree that the smaller, more accessible work will be relevant to a broader spectrum of readers.
“Drawn from the core of our national purpose, (lessons from the civil rights era) show how ordinary people can work miracles against intractable burdens to advance both freedom and the common good,” Branch says.
OSI-Baltimore’s longstanding “Talking About Race” series has sparked a citywide dialogue about race and bias. Speakers have addressed the topic from different perspectives and explored why it is important to discuss such issues openly and intelligently.
As the only field office for the Open Society Foundations’ U.S. Programs, Open Society Institute-Baltimore focuses on the root causes of three intertwined problems in our city and state: drug addiction, an overreliance on incarceration, and obstacles that keep youth from succeeding both inside and outside the classroom. We also support a growing corps of social entrepreneurs committed to underserved populations in Baltimore. Before we make a single grant, we analyze the root causes of a problem and examine research and innovative practices aimed at tackling the problem. Because we aim for lasting, sustainable solutions, we engage public and private partners from the start. It is only then, with a clear picture of the problem, that we begin to focus our approach and diligently craft a road map for change.