Taylor Branch awarded literary peace prize

The Baltimore Sun

Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of an acclaimed trilogy on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., will receive the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Lifetime Achievement, organizers announced this week.

The Dayton Literacy Peace Prize was founded in 2006 to honor writers whose work "uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice and global understanding." Previous honorees include authors Studs Terkel and Elie Wiesel.

"I'm thrilled to be in that company," Branch said yesterday. "I'm just a guy from Baltimore."

Branch's epic trilogy, America in the King Years, was honored for "reminding us all that Dr. King's legacy to humankind was not just his leadership on civil rights, but his commitment to the power of nonviolence," Sharon Rab, chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Committee, said in a news release.

"It's a shame that nonviolence, the most powerful tool from the civil rights movement, has largely been ignored. We've forgotten about it pretty quickly," said Branch, 61.

At a ceremony in Dayton, Ohio, in September, Branch will accept the prize -- the only literary peace prize awarded in the United States. The $10,000 prize is an outgrowth of the Dayton Peace Prize, which commemorates the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords ending the Bosnian war.

Branch's Wrestling History: The Bill Clinton Tapes (tentative title), a book based on conversations with President Bill Clinton during his eight years in the White House, will be published later this year.

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