Bestselling author and journalist Wil Haygood ("The Butler") speaks at Fairfield University's 2014 MLK, Jr. Convocation



7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014
Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts
Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT
Free Admission

Image: Will HaywoodFairfield University's 2014 MLK, Jr. Convocation will present a lecture by bestselling author and journalist Wil Haygood, at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts as part of its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Observance. The event is free and open to the public. Wil Haygood is an acclaimed Washington Post reporter whose recent book "The Butler: A Witness to History," chronicles the life of Eugene Allen, a black man who served as a butler for eight presidents, from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan. The book, which quickly became a bestseller, was released in tandem with the motion picture "The Butler," starring Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, and Cuba Gooding Jr. Free screenings of "The Butler," of which Haygood is associate producer, will also take place as part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. commemoration activities (tentatively scheduled for 1/24/14 and 1/31/14).

Wil Haygood had an early hunch that Barack Obama would win the 2008 election, and when he did he wanted to publish an article about a black person who had worked in the White House as a servant, someone who had come of age when segregation was so widespread, so embedded in the culture as to make the very thought of a black president inconceivable. He struck gold when he tracked down Eugene Allen, a butler who had served no less than eight presidents, from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan—and in so doing became a "discreet stage hand who for three decades helped keep the show running in the most important political theatre of all." The result was The Butler: A Witness to History, a portrait of Eugene Allen's lifelong journey, from his birth in 1919 on a southern plantation to his years in service at the White House; it is also a broader examination of the history of African Americans in film.

Wil Haygood is the author of five nonfiction books, including a trilogy of biographies of iconic 20th-century figures, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Sammy Davis Jr., and Sugar Ray Robinson. His other books are Two on the River - about a 2,500-mile journey down the Mississippi River - and The Haygoods of Columbus: A Family Memoir. For 17 years, he was a national and foreign correspondent for The Boston Globe, where he became a Pulitzer Prize finalist. In 1990 while covering the civil war in Somalia he was taken hostage by rebels and eventually released with the aid of Pakistani troops. In 2002, Haygood joined The Washington Post as a national writer. He was one of the first journalists to make it into New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck, a story which he covered for 33 straight days without a break. In 2008, he traveled with Barack Obama.

Wil Haygood has been a Yaddo Guest Artist, an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellow, and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow. He has been a visiting writer at the University of Georgia, Ohio State University, and Colorado College. In 2013, Wil Haygood was honored with the prestigious Ella Baker Award, named after the civil rights pioneer. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters by Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 2013.

Fairfield University's MLK, Jr. Convocation is an integral part of its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Observance, which features a series of Campus-wide events designed to invigorate the spirit and inspire all to continue on with the important work reflected in the words, writings, and actions of Dr. King. Other events taking place include: Tuesday, January 28, 2014, Memorial March through Campus; Wednesday, January 29, 2014, Day of Service; Thursday, January 30, 2014, Pre-Convocation performance with the Fairfield University Glee Club, MLK Convocation featuring Wil Haygood at 7 p.m., and the Vision Awards Connecticut Post Essay Contest presentations; Friday, January 31, 2014, Youth Leadership Academy, Poetry for Peace. All events are free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Fred J. Kuo, 
Director, Student Involvement, fkuo@fairfield.edu, (203) 254-4000 ext. 3733; or Dr. Kris Sealey, Associate Professor of Philosophy, ksealey@fairfield.edu, (203) 254-4000, ext. 3020.

The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts is located on the campus of Fairfield University at 1073 North Benson Road in Fairfield, Connecticut. Entrance to the Quick Center is through the Barlow Road gate at 200 Barlow Road. Free, secure parking is available. Access for people with disabilities is available throughout the Quick Center for audience members and performers. Hearing amplification devices are available upon request at the Box Office. Fairfield University is located off exit 22 of Interstate-95. For further information and directions, call (203) 254-4010 or 1-877-278-7396, or visit www.quickcenter.com.

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Media Contact: Mike Horyczun, (203) 254-4000 ext. 2647, mhoryczun@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 13, 2013

Vol. 46, No. 118