Author to speak at NC Wesleyan | School news


NC Wesleyan College will host award-winning author and political columnist Rob Christensen on October 5.

Christensen plans to share a glimpse of eastern North Carolina with his latest story, “The Rise and Fall of the Branchhead Boys,” at the free event starting at 6 pm in the Minges Auditorium at Dunn Center .

With a career spanning over 45 years as a political reporter for The News and Observer in Raleigh, Christensen brings the multigenerational story of the Scott family to life, one of North Carolina’s most influential political families.

Released in 2019, “The Rise and Fall of the Branchhead Boys” is the recipient of the prestigious Ragan Old North State Award for Nonfiction. Through investigative journalism that weaves interviews paired with archival research, Christensen travels back in time to offer a gripping historical tale of an important turning point for the North Carolina political scene.

“I look forward to speaking to NC Wesleyan because Branchhead Boys is in large part about eastern North Carolina and the ongoing struggles against the urban-rural divide of North Carolina. Nash County, in particular, figure prominently in my book, ”said Christensen.

Christensen shares the story of the Scott family’s legacy and how race and populism influenced the political landscape of the 20th century during a period known as the era of progressive politics in North Carolina.

Three generations of Scotts have held office across the state to overcome racial stereotypes. W. Kerr Scott, Robert Scott and Meg Scott Phipps were able to gain support from the people of rural North Carolina, known as the Branchhead Boys, a group of grassroots rural voters.

Christensen recounts the difficulties the Scots faced in helping rural development in North Carolina and introducing modern amenities such as extending power and telephone lines and paving roads. Instrumental in their own downfall, Christensen concludes with what ultimately led to their demise.

Christensen retired in 2018 after a successful career in journalism. He has appeared as a political analyst on over 600 TV and radio shows, including CBS Evening News, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, ABC’s Nightline, C-Span, PBS, NPR and the BBC.

He has been interviewed by Don Imus, Mitch Albom, Diane Rheems, Jeff Greenfield, Chris Matthews, Cokie Roberts, Al Franken and more. He has shared his ideas and industry knowledge through hundreds of lectures at colleges, libraries, bookstores, and civic and political clubs across the state.


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