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2018 Distinguished Lecture

Each Spring, the Johnson Institute sponsors a major address by a distinguished race scholar and public intellectual. On Thursday, April 5th, in Emory's Cannon Chapel, historian and award-winning author Taylor Branch delivered the 2018 lecture entitled, "Lift Every Voice: Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Weldon Johnson". Branch's talk examined the following question: Looking back 50 years to 1968 and 100 years to 1918, what can we learn today about race and democracy from these two seminal leaders? 

This event was co-sponsored by the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Laney Legacy Program in Moral Leadership at Candler School of Theology.

About The Speaker

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. Some reviewers have compared the King-era trilogy, which required more than twenty-four years of intensive research, with epic histories such as Shelby Foote’s The Civil War and Robert Caro’s multi-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson.

Branch returned to civil rights history in his latest book, The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement (2013).  It presents eighteen key episodes across the full span of the era, selected and knitted together in language from the trilogy, with new introductions for each of the chapters.  The result is a compact, 190-page immersion for readers in this transformative period of American history.  Beginning in the spring semester of 2013, Branch will offer from the University of Baltimore an on-line seminar built around The King Years and other texts.