|April 8, 2014 - As part of a series of events marking the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the City of Knoxville will welcome acclaimed journalist and author Todd S. Purdum to town on Wednesday, April 23, to discuss his new book on the landmark legislation. Purdum, contributing editor for Vanity Fair magazine and senior writer for Politico, will speak at noon that day at the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, 1927 Dandridge Ave.
Purdum's book, "An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964," was published April 1. It has been called "a fascinating, blow-by-blow account" by National Public Radio, and "brilliantly rendered and emotionally powerful" by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.
At the Beck Center, Purdum will be introduced by Knoxville resident John G. Stewart, who was the top legislative aide to Sen. Hubert Humphrey at the time of the bill's passage. Stewart was involved in behind-the-scenes negotiations on the bill, and was among those Purdum interviewed for the book.
"This will be a great opportunity for people to learn the first-hand story behind the passage of the Civil Rights Act," said Joshalyn Hundley, Title VI coordinator for the City of Knoxville and the organizer of the Civil Rights Act commemorative events. "Fifty years on, the achievements of that era are easy to take for granted. It is important to remember how hard the fight was."
Purdum was a reporter and bureau chief at The New York Times for 23 years before joining Vanity Fair in 2006 as national editor. In 2013, he became a senior writer for Politico, and continues as a contributing editor for Vanity Fair.
The event at the Beck Center is free and open to the public.
For an ongoing calendar of activities, see http://www.cityofknoxville.org/civilrightsact.