Three years ago, for Martin Luther King, Jr. day, I convinced The Nation to let me interview Taylor Branch, chronicler of the King era and a person from whom I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration. At the time, Branch was deep into working on The Clinton Tapes, although our conversation only touched on that in a couple of tangential ways.

Here’s the interview.

In looking back at that interview today, King Day 2011, it strikes me both how scattered my questions are–even in heavily condensed form–and, despite that, how easily Branch reaches grand, eloquent heights in universalizing King’s message.

And this:

I think we’re still in an era that wants to pigeonhole Dr. King as somebody who’s about “I have a dream” and the end of segregation. Because people are more comfortable with that, they want to see another race leader, not a democratic force.