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Wil Haygood unveils forthcoming documentary on Thurgood Marshall

Author and journalist Wil Haygood unveiled a trailer for a forthcoming documentary about Thurgood Marshall to a crowd of around 300 on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at Miami University. 

Dawn Porter, director and founder of production company Trilogy Films, will be directing the documentary, “Showdown: The Rise of Thurgood Marshall,” with the help of Evolve Studios. It will be based on Haygood’s book, which showcases Marshall’s tense confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court.

“So many people thought we fought and won these big battles in the ’60s, but we should be worried,” Haygood said. “Racism is in this country’s DNA.” 

Haygood hopes one part of the five-part documentary will be ready by Election Day in November to serve as a reminder to voters about the dangers of discrimination. The documentary will be ready in its entirety in early 2021.

Haygood hopes the public will be as entranced by Marshall as he was when he saw him at Penn Station in New York City. Even though it was only a brief glimpse, he said this interaction cemented the connection with Marshall that made him yearn to learn and write about the mysteries of the justice’s hearing and the “demons” of which he worked to rid America.

The writer told the audience the story of a letter to an Arkansas Republican congressman who strongly opposed Marshall’s confirmation. The letter was from one of his constituents and said if not then, there would one day be an African American on the Supreme Court and eventually in the White House.

“I was so touched that someone could have that type of faith in this nation in 1967,” Haygood said. 

At a luncheon with Miami honors students on Wednesday, he told another story about someone writing a letter hopeful for a better future. After Haygood witnessed many of his friends receive acceptance letters to college, he wrote a letter to the dean of admissions at the school he applied to. 

Haygood told the dean that if he was accepted into the school, he would work to make them proud to call him an alumni one day. He was accepted as part of the 1976 class at Miami University. 

Since then, he has written several popular books, including “Tigerland” and “The Butler” and won several awards, including the Sunday Magazine Editors Award and the National Association of Black Journalists Award for Foreign Reporting.

“Now, there are nine more books in the library because I decided to move the way my blood beats,” Haygood said. 

scottea3@miamioh.edu

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