- How is the narrative in
Pillar of Fire advanced by Branch’s use of biographical
- How is this book
different from the other books we have read thus far? Can a
book be commercially successful and an important
- What are some of the
issues confronting delegates at the Conference on Religion and
Race? What, if anything, was solved by the end of the
- Does Branch’s book
present an alternative to the “top-down” approach?
- How does Branch
juxtapose the trial of the men from Muslim Temple 27 with that
of the young participants in the Birmingham March of 1962?
- How does the verdict in
the John X. Norris trial undercut Elijah Mohammed’s belief that
there could be no justice from the “white man’s court”? 99-100
- What prompts King’s
exclamation “We’ve baptized Brother Wilkins?” 102
- To what extent does the
Wilkins’ arrest prompt policy changes in the NAACP?
- Branch states, “For
President Kennedy…the lesson here was that a neophyte young
Negro was no pushover.” (110)
- How should we interpret
John Kennedy’s feelings towards King in light of King’s refusal
to visit the White House?
- How does King’s
relationship with Lyndon Johnson, and vice versa, spur dissent
within the two men’s respective constituency? How does their
relationship evolve throughout the narrative?
- How should we compare
and contrast the Kennedy Administration and the Johnson
Administration reactions on the Civil Rights Movement generally,
and King specifically
- How does Johnson
develop his program on poverty and, eventually, his Great
- Why are the Beetles
- How did a bill to
introduce the language of gender equality into Civil Rights
legislation gain support among Southerners in Congress?
- Why is it important
that blacks and not women were summoned to the Beckwith jury?
- What causes Dr. Hayling
to finally contact King about the problems in St. Augustine?
- What was the reaction
of the SCLC and NAACP to Haylings appeal for intervention and
support? What does this say about the leading organizations
during the Civil Rights Movement?
- How was a hung jury in
the Beckwith trial a victory?
- How did King figure
into the divisions between Hoover, Robert Kennedy, and Johnson
before and after the assassination of President Kennedy.
- How did King go from
drawing a comparison between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon to
John Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln? 248
- How does the conversion
of Cassius Clay figure into the final break between Malcolm X
and the Nation of Islam?
- Was SNCC doomed once
they abandoned their grassroots beginnings to become a top-down
- Was Johnson’s decree to
Southern Baptists the turning point in the role religion played
during this time?
- How did the Cow Palace
Convention change the relationship between blacks and the
- Can a history of the
Civil Rights Movement exclude Cold War Politics? Do you agree
with the amount of attention Branch gives the FBI wiretaps and
Hoover’s almost obsession with finding Communist connections in
- Prof. Oakes said last
semester-and I paraphrase-that the success of a movement is
dependents on its ability to become a politicized. Is this
argument applicable to the NAACP, SCLC, and SNCC? Can it be
applied to an individual like Malcolm X?
- How does Johnson’s new
directive in Vietnam change the non-violence aspect of the Civil
Rights Movement? 437
- How did the Atlantic
City convention mark the transition of African Americans as a
traditionally Republican constituency to a Democratic
constituency, considering that many in the Civil Rights Movement
found serious faults with both parties?
- What is the turning
point in Johnson’s campaign?
- What finally eased
King’s qualms over supporting Johnson?
- Why did Hoover make his
“notorious liar” comments when he did and what were its impact
throughout the Civil Rights Movement?
- Is there a discernable
moment that leads to the near collapse of the Civil Rights
- How did Senator
Kennedy’s observations of the Hoover-King meeting different from
what was coming from the King Camp?
- According to Malcolm X,
what splits the Muslim movement? 551
- Does Branch
sufficiently discuss the role of gender in the Civil Rights
- Why does Branch mention
that activities of Harry Belafonte, Jackie Robinson, and Sidney
Poitier and do they help the narrative?
- Does Branch’s desire to
write a comprehensive narrative on the Civil Rights Movement run
into the same problems as Alan Taylor’s book? Are there parts
of Branch’s book that are irrelevant?
- How should historians
classify a book like Branch’s? Does it fall into a discernable