Acclaimed Washington Post reporter Wil Haygood had an early hunch that Barack Obama would win the 2008 election. When he did, Haygood 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 the very thought of a black president was inconceivable. He tracked down Eugene Allen, a butler who had served eight presidents, from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan. 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.
The book, which quickly became a bestseller, was released in tandem with the award-winning motion picture The Butler—of which Haygood is associate producer—starring Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Jane Fonda, and Vanessa Redgrave. Among the film's many honors include receiving two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture (Forest Whitaker) and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (David Oyelowo).
Many prominent people responded to the powerful message produced from the feature film, including President Obama, who was quoted as saying, “"I teared up thinking about not just the butlers who worked here in the White House, but an entire generation of people...”
Haygood is the author of five nonfiction books and his journalism career has been equally notable. 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.
In 2013, Wil Haygood was honored with the prestigious Ella Baker Award, named after the civil rights pioneer. The judges cited Haygood's literary career "for shedding a light on those who give much, but are little noticed." He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters by Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 2013.
The lecture and book signing will be held at the Alexandria Black History Museum, located at 902 Wythe Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314. For more information, please call 703.746.4356. Seating is limited. Reservations are required. The Museum is located five blocks from the Braddock Road Metro Station on the Yellow and Blue Lines. Street parking is available.
Source: City of Alexandria