Taylor Branch to receive honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer will be honored during commencement exercises of the College of Liberal Arts
TOWSON, Md. (May 24, 2011)—Renowned author Taylor Branch will be awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters during the 146th Commencement of Towson University.
The Baltimore resident is best known for his landmark narrative history of the civil rights era, America in the King Years, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History, among other honors.
Branch was born and raised in Atlanta, where he graduated from the Westminster School. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina and a master’s of public affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
During the 1970s, he honed his editorial and writing skills at The Washington Monthly, Harper’s and Esquire. He also wrote articles for such publications as The New York Times Magazine, Sport, The New Republic and Texas Monthly.
In 2009, Branch published The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President, a memoir that describes Branch's unprecedented eight-year project to document a sitting president’s comprehensive oral history on tape. At the initiative of President Bill Clinton, Branch suspended work on the King books about once a month to meet secretly in the White House residence, usually late at night, to record Clinton's candid observations for posterity.
When he isn't writing, Branch speaks before a variety of audiences. He has discussed doctrines of nonviolence with prisoners at San Quentin as well as with officers at the National War College. He has presented seminars on civil rights at Oxford University and in sixth-grade classrooms. His 2008 speech at the National Cathedral commemorated the anniversary of Dr. King’s last Sunday sermon from that pulpit, and in 2009 he gave the Theodore H. White Lecture on the Press and Politics at Harvard.
Among his many honors are a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Lifetime Achievement Award and the National Humanities Medal.