Taylor Branch to speak at Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration

Although Martin Luther King, Jr. died nearly 47 years ago, his vision still uplifts and transforms countless people throughout the world. To keep that vision fresh and provocative, for the last 21 years a committee of community groups—the Modesto Peace Life Center, City of Modesto, Modesto Junior College and California State University, Stanislaus—has offered an inspiring Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration.

The 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration is scheduled for Saturday, January 23 at 7 p.m. in the Auditorium on Modesto Junior College's East Campus, and the keynote speaker will be Taylor Branch speaking on "Freedom and Gridlock: Lessons From Martin Luther King.” 

A special student discussion with Mr. Branch is scheduled for 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. at the King Kennedy Center, which will be followed by a public reception from 5:00 to 6:15 p.m. at the Center. 

Taylor Branch is an American author 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 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.

Branch’s latest book, The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement (2013) presents eighteen key episodes across the full span of the era, knitted together from the trilogy, each chapter with new introductions. The result is a compact, 190-page immersion for readers in this transformative period of American history.

Branch’s other works include The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President and the “The Shame of College Sports” [October 2011 The Atlantic], of which sports commentator Frank DeFord said “may well be the most important article ever written about college sports.”

Mr. Branch has discussed doctrines of nonviolence with San Quentin prisoners, and with 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 University.

Branch began his career in 1970 as a journalist for The Washington Monthly, Harper’s and Esquire. He holds honorary doctoral degrees from ten colleges and universities and was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 1999.

Please join us for a thought-provoking presentation by Taylor Branch as we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King!