Taylor Branch to Present Bolin Family Public Life | Personal Faith Luncheon on Feb. 12, 2016

Award-winning author, noted historian is an expert on Civil Rights-era in the United States

DALLAS (SMU) – Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Taylor Branch will be the featured speaker for the 2016 Public Life | Personal Faith lecture and luncheon, scheduled for noon to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, at the Martha Mack Proctor Grand Ballroom at SMU.

Immediately preceding the luncheon, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., Branch will conduct a colloquium that is free and open to the public. This event – an informal question-and-answer session with the author for students, faculty and others – will take place in the Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Great Hall.

At both events, Branch will speak on “How Spiritual Faith Impacted the Civil Rights Movement in America.”

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 18 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. 

The Public Life | Personal Faith events are sponsored by the family of Pat and Jane Bolin. Pat Bolin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at EagleCorp and Eagle Oil & Gas Co. in Dallas, is a graduate of Southern Methodist University (B.A. ’73) and 2010 recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the SMU Cox School of Business.

The PL|PF series, in its sixth year, is a fundraising and outreach event of Perkins School of Theology in service to the larger community. The lecture and colloquium provide an opportunity for participants to engage scholars on topics related to why and how personal faith shapes public life.

For more information and to register for the luncheon: https://www.smu.edu/Perkins/Give/plpf


Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Ministry, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Pastoral Music (June 2016) as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.