Acclaimed Biographer, Pulitzer Finalist, Award-Winning Author & Reporter
In the vibrant tapestry of American history, certain voices resonate, weaving together the threads of our past and present into a captivating narrative. One such voice is that of Wil Haygood, an acclaimed biographer, Pulitzer Prize finalist, award-winning author, and celebrated reporter.
An Evening to Remember
On Thursday, February 1, 2024, the Huntsville Museum of Art’s Black History Month Committee will host an unforgettable evening in honor of Bobby Bradley, featuring Wil Haygood as the distinguished guest. This evening will be a celebration of history, literature, and the enduring spirit of individuals who have shaped our collective consciousness.
Meet Wil Haygood: A Literary Luminary
Wil Haygood’s literary journey is nothing short of remarkable. He is perhaps best known for his New York Times bestsellers, “The Butler” and “Showdown,” which have chronicled America’s civil rights journey through the acclaimed biographies of figures such as Thurgood Marshall, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Sammy Davis, Jr., Sugar Ray Robinson, and Eugene Allen – the real-life inspiration for Lee Daniels’ award-winning film, “The Butler.” It was during the sold-out movie premiere of “Marshall” that the film’s director, Reginald Hudlin, wanted to share the stage with none other than Wil Haygood himself.
Haygood’s unique storytelling talent lies in his ability to connect the dots between the civil rights movement, its iconic heroes, and the enduring struggles of our times. He emphasizes that this history is not exclusive to any one group but belongs to all Americans, shaping our national identity and common values.
“Tigerland”: A Tale of Triumph Amidst Turmoil
One of Haygood’s notable works, “Tigerland: 1968-1969: A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing,” recounts the uplifting story of teams from a poor, black segregated high school that achieved the extraordinary feat of winning two state championships in the same year. This triumph united a racially charged community in the aftermath of Martin Luther King’s assassination. “Tigerland” has garnered acclaim from The Wall Street Journal, which hailed it as “a haunting, unforgettable book.” It has also received prestigious awards, including the Ohioana Book Award and recognition as a Hooks National Book Award Finalist.
Exploring Black Cinema and Racism in Modern America
In his latest book, “Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World,” Haygood provides an unprecedented history of Black cinema and a groundbreaking perspective on racism in modern America. Through the struggles and triumphs of Black artists and their films, he delves into Black culture and the civil rights movement.
A Journalist’s Perspective
Wil Haygood’s talent for presenting events from multiple points of view stems from his extensive career as a journalist. Over thirty years, he served as a national and foreign correspondent for The Washington Post and The Boston Globe, covering monumental events such as Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, the ascent of President Obama, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and his own harrowing experience as the hostage of Somali rebels. His dedication to storytelling earned him recognition as a Pulitzer Prize finalist for feature writing during his tenure at The Globe.
A Remarkable Journey from Humble Beginnings
Born to a poor single mother and raised in the projects, Wil Haygood’s journey to Pulitzer recognition, the New York Times bestseller list, Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, and the upper echelons of Hollywood is nothing short of inspiring. He was the first in his family to attend college, studying urban studies and English literature while playing on the junior varsity basketball team at Miami University (Ohio). In 2013, he returned to his alma mater as a Broadway Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence in the Department of Media, Journalism & Film, receiving the Miami University President’s medal for his contributions to the university and society. He also holds honorary degrees from several institutions.
A Powerful Speaker
As a speaker, Wil Haygood has been described as “a powerful presence” who leaves audiences inspired and with a deeper understanding of our shared American story. His ability to connect the past with the present resonates with audiences from all walks of life.
Honoring Bobby Bradley: A Woman of Impact
In addition to celebrating Wil Haygood’s remarkable career, this evening will be a tribute to Bobby A. Bradley, a native of Huntsville, AL, whose accomplishments have been nothing short of remarkable. A mathematics and chemistry graduate from Vanderbilt University, Bradley embarked on a career that included positions with Northrop Corporation, Computer Sciences Corporation, and the U.S. Army Missile Command. In 1989, she co-founded Computer Systems Technology (CST), which provided vital services to the Department of Defense and NASA. In 2011, she co-founded Village of Promise (VoP), a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating generational poverty by ensuring successful transitions into sustainable careers for under-resourced individuals and children.
Bobby A. Bradley’s extensive involvement in professional and community organizations, her numerous awards, and her dedication to making a difference in her community exemplify her commitment to positive change.
Join Us on February 1, 2024
“An Evening with Wil Haygood” is a rare opportunity to engage with a literary luminary and celebrate the achievements of a woman of impact, Bobby A. Bradley. The event will begin with cocktails at 5:30 PM, followed by a lecture and discussion at 6:30 PM. A sumptuous dinner, prepared by Chef Narvell, will be served at 7:30 PM.
Mark your calendars for Thursday, February 1, 2024, and join us at Loretta Spencer Hall inside the Huntsville Museum of Art, for an evening that promises inspiration, insight, and celebration. Presented by the HMA Black History Month Committee, this event will be a testament to the power of storytelling and the individuals who have shaped our shared American narrative.