2015 Annual Convention Keynote: Taylor Branch 

07-09-2015 02:53 PM

NELA was privileged to welcome acclaimed American author and historian Taylor Branch as our Keynote Speaker for the 2015 Annual Convention. Mr. Branch is 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 (1998) and At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68 (2006).

In 2009, Simon and Schuster published The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President. Far more personal than Mr. Branch's previous books, this memoir tells of an unprecedented eight-year project to gather a sitting president's comprehensive oral history on tape. The collaboration is a story in itself, born of mutual concern over the declining quality of raw material for presidential history. Mr. Branch met with President Bill Clinton for 79 secret sessions, nearly always late at night in the White House residence. They recorded candid observations for posterity. The book reveals a president up close and unguarded, as perceived by an author struggling to balance many roles. In October 2011, The Atlantic published Mr. Branch's capsule history of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), "The Shame of College Sports." When that essay sparked national debate, released an expanded e-book version called The Cartel, which is available online or by print-on-demand.

Aside from writing, Mr. Branch speaks before a variety of audiences. He has discussed doctrines of nonviolence with prisoners at San Quentin as well as officers at the National War College. His 2008 address at the National Cathedral marked the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's last Sunday sermon from that pulpit. In 2009, he gave the Theodore H. White Lecture on the "Press and Politics" at Harvard.

His musical sidelights have spanned the Atlanta Boy Choir in the 1950s, a high-school folk trio, and a contemporary octet for spirituals. In 2006, he and two friends reconstituted their 1960s college band as the cover group Off Our Rocker, which has recorded and released two CDs in playful tribute to the Beatles.

Mr. Branch began his career in 1970 as a staff journalist for The Washington Monthly, Harper’s, and Esquire. He holds honorary doctoral degrees from ten colleges and universities. Other citations include the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 and the National Humanities Medal in 1999. Samples of his book reviews, lectures, media appearances, blogs, printed commentary, and musical tracks are available on the website,

Mr. Branch is introduced by his friend and longtime NELA member, Alan Banov.


0 Favorited
1 Files

Tags and Keywords

mp3 file
Taylor Branch   59.45 MB   1 version
Uploaded - 07-09-2015

Related Entries and Links

No Related Resource entered.