Friday, April 8, 2011 – Harlem politicos were out in force to honor biographer and journalist Wil Haygood. His work documenting the lives of Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Sammy Davis Jr., and Sugar Ray Robinson is an important historical record.
The event took place at The Schomburg Center for Research into Black Culture, and was sponsored by Bill Lynch Associates, LLC. Mr. Lynch, a long-time Harlemite and NYC powerbroker, was on hand for the reading.
Wil Haygood has spent much of his writing life during the past two decades compiling a trilogy of biographical works of three figures forever linked to Harlem USA: Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Sammy Davis Jr., and Sugar Ray Robinson. Haygood has interviewed more than 400 individuals over the years, a quest which has taken him from European capitals to the Caribbean to points across America and of course Harlem. A good many of those he interviewed worked with and intimately knew these three seminal African-American figures. Haygood’s trilogy has been widely acclaimed.
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A Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellow and a writer for the Washington Post, Wil Haygood has been described as a cultural historian. He is the author of a trio of iconic biographies. His King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., told the story of the enigmatic New York congressman and was named aNew York Times Notable Book of the Year. That was followed—after publication of a family memoir—by In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr., which was awarded the ASCAP Deems Taylor Music Biography Award, the Zora Neale Hurston-Richard Wright Legacy Award, and the Nonfiction Book of the Year Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. In 2009, he wrote Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson, which told the story of the famed New York pugilist known as much for his prowess in the ring as his elegant style outside of it. Haygood is an associate producer of Lee Daniels’ The Butler.