Author Wil Haygood sits at the desk of Thurgood Marshall.
Author Wil Haygood sits at the desk of Thurgood Marshall. Photo: Courtesy of Wil Haygood

Events highlight Miami's role in civil rights, social justice

By Cliff Peale, university communications and marketing

The public is invited to join the Miami University community Feb. 25 and 26 for two events exploring the connections that Miami, Oxford and the Western College for Women have to the civil rights movement and lessons learned to inspire progress today.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, in the Armstrong Student Center Pavilion on the Oxford campus, journalist and author Wil Haygood (Miami ’76) will debut the trailer for a forthcoming documentary based on his 2015 biography of Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Haygood, the Boadway Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence in Miami’s department of media, journalism & film, will speak on “The American Presidency and Thurgood Marshall,” followed by a question-and-answer session.

Haygood authored the book that eventually became the hit movie “The Butler,” and has written biographies of entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. and boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. His latest book, Tigerland: 1968-1969: A City Divided, A Nation Torn Apart and a Magical Season of Healing, chronicles the state champion athletes at Columbus East High School in 1968-1969. Any recording or dissemination of or access to the trailer video is strictly prohibited.

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, in the Leonard Theater in Peabody Hall on Miami’s Western Campus, Miami will premiere the documentary “Training for Freedom: How Ordinary People In An Unusual Time & Unlikely Place Made Extraordinary History.” Directed by former Miami faculty member Kathy Conkwright and produced by the department of media, journalism & film, this new documentary tells the story of the students and civil rights workers who trained at the Western College for Women during the summer of 1964.

Following the screening, a panel discussion of Miami scholars and first-person accounts will explore Freedom Summer's historical significance and how we might translate the lessons from 1964 into action today.

Both events are free and open to the public.