Biographer and journalist Wil Haygood to give lecture on Thurgood Marshall Oct. 11

Award-winning and internationally known biographer and journalist Wil Haygood will deliver the Amicus Curiae Lecture “Thurgood Marshall’s Battle for Justice” at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 11, in Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall on Marshall University’s Huntington campus.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Thurgood Marshall’s 1967 confirmation to the United State Supreme Court.  Haygood’s book, SHOWDOWN: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination that Changed America, chronicles the furious battle to get Thurgood Marshall confirmed to the United States Supreme Court, where he became the first African American to serve on that court. Among other prizes, SHOWDOWN won the Scribes Book Award, given annually to the best book written on American law, and was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

As Haygood will discuss in his lecture, titled “Thurgood Marshall’s Battle for Justice,”  Marshall led a “singular life in pursuit of justice.”  At the time of his nomination to the Supreme Court, Marshall was the nation’s leading civil rights lawyer, having handled cases including the seminal Brown v. Board of Education case that overturned the separate-but-equal doctrine and resulted in school desegregation. Haygood will discuss what “the undeniable reality of why Marshall and his vision of jurisprudence – from voting rights to women’s rights to fair application of law enforcement – is now more important than ever in our nation.”

Patricia Proctor, director of the Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy, which sponsors the Amicus Curiae Lecture Series, said, “It is an incredible honor and fabulous opportunity to welcome Wil Haygood to Marshall University.”

Proctor said that Haygood’s exploits as a journalist could be the topic of an adventure novel.  “As a war correspondent covering the civil war in Somalia, he was taken hostage by the rebels, and, thankfully, was later rescued,” she said. “He has been present at pivotal moments in history. He was one of the reporters who covered the 2008 Obama campaign, and later his presidency. He was present in South Africa to watch Nelson Mandela’s walk to freedom from the prison in which he was held for 27 years.”

During nearly 30 years as a journalist, Haygood was national and foreign correspondent for the Boston Globe, where he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and a national writer for The Washington Post. His story “A Butler Well Served by this Election” was the basis for the 2013 award-winning motion picture, The Butler, and his book, The Butler: A Witness to History, has been translated into more than a dozen languages.

A New York Times bestselling author, Haygood has written seven books, including acclaimed biographies of Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Sugar Ray Robinson, and Sammy Davis Jr., and has been described as “one of America’s premier cultural historians.”

The Amicus Curiae Lecture Series is sponsored by the Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy at Marshall University and supported by a grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council.

The third lecture of fall 2017 will be Thursday, Nov. 9, when Vanderbilt University Professor Dr. Marc Hetherington will deliver a lecture focused on political polarization in the United States, “Fixed World View or Fluid? Why Republicans and Democrats Hate Each Other.”