HAMPTON, Va. (November 26, 2018) – On Tuesday, November 14, 2018, The Hampton University William R. and Norma B. Harvey Library hosted a conversation with best-selling author Wil Haygood for the reading of his new book, “Tigerland.” This new novel is an emotional, inspiring story of two teams from a poor, black, segregated high school in Ohio, who, in the midst of the racial turbulence of 1968 and 1969, win the Ohio state baseball and basketball championships in the same year.
“Our Home By the Sea was inspired to invite Mr. Haygood to our campus. We are an institute of higher learning and our students can absorb a great deal from such a gifted storyteller like Mr. Haygood,” said Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey.
Wil Haygood is the author of “The Butler: A Witness to History,” “Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America,” and many more. “The Butler” was later adapted into the critically acclaimed film directed by Lee Daniels, starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey.
Students, faculty, and outside visitors filled the Harvey Library Conference room eager to join a conversation with Historian and Associate Producer of the film, “The Butler” Wil Haygood. Haygood shared many stories with the guests and answered various questions, revealing inspirational stories about how he found the untold stories of his most recent books.
Students were curious to know about the inspiration behind his career as motivation for their own. “When I came out of college, I went through the executive training program at Macy’s department store in New York. After two years, I got fired from Macy’s. My manager told me to take a notebook home and write down what you wanted to do in life,” said Haygood. “I took my notebook home to my little New York apartment and started to write about the things I missed in my life instead. I came back the next day to show my manager who fired me. After reading a few pages, she stated, ‘Wil, whatever you do in life, you must go write.’” Haygood credits the launch of his career to the motivation he received after being fired from his job at twenty-three years old.
Haygood has had an extensive career. He has received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and the 2017 Patrick Henry Fellowship Literary Award for his research on his newest novel, “Tigerland,” recently listed as a finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal.
Haygood is currently a visiting distinguished professor in the department of media, journalism, and film at Miami University, Ohio. For nearly three decades, he was a journalist, serving as a national and foreign correspondent at The Boston Globe, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and then at The Washington Post.