Emory Report

January 10, 2000

 Volume 52, No. 16

Author Branch headlines King Week

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch will highlight Emory's Martin Luther King Jr. Week celebration next week with a Jan. 18 lecture at 7 p.m. in Cox Ballroom.

Branch's lecture marks a return to the city in which the author grew up.

He was awarded the Pulitzer for 1989's Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963. The sequel to that book, Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-1965, was published last year. As a teenager, Branch was never involved in the civil rights movement, but he was affected by King and his mission.

"When I was in high school I saw the phalanx of dogs, the hoses spurting at little girls, and they just stupefied me," Branch said in an interview last year with the Seattle Times. When he got to college, he became more involved with the movement and gave up medicine to study history.

One of the themes of Branch's two books is the tremendous amount of faith it took for civil rights movement leaders to practice nonviolence in the face of such burning hatred. Indeed, Branch said nonviolence is not the natural human response to confrontation and abuse; the reflex is self-defense.

"That's why I get so upset when people say the '60s were a time of no discipline," Branch said. "I don't know of any better example of discipline than the nonviolent Freedom Riders. We were witnessing a faith even in strangers who hate you and want to hurt you and don't even consider you a human being."

In the Times interview, Branch said he plans to write a third book on the King years and even hopes to work with entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte on a television miniseries.

"I see a whole generation coming up who don't know and more importantly don't care [about that era]," he said. "I'm convinced if they did know, they would care."

Other King Week events include a lecture by James Fowler, director of the Center for Ethics; roundtable discussions on women's relations and health and economic development; performances by Voices of Inner Strength and the AHANA dance/theater troupe; a jazz vespers service feature music professor Dwight Andrews; and other events.

A more detailed story on King Week events will appear in next week's Emory Report. For more information on King Week, call the Office of Multicultural Services and Programs at 404-727-6754

--Michael Terrazas

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