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'The Butler' author Haygood to speak at UC in Sept.

By Staff reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Wil Haygood, a former Charleston Gazette reporter and editor whose work at The Washington Post was adapted into the critically acclaimed movie "Lee Daniels' The Butler," will speak at the University of Charleston next month.

Haygood will speak at Riggleman Hall on Sept. 24, at 6:30 p.m. as part of the university's 2013-14 Speaker Series.

"The Butler," which was the top-grossing movie in America last weekend, is based on a story that Haygood wrote for The Washington Post in 2008 about Eugene Allen, who worked in the White House for 34 years. Haygood is an associate producer of the movie.

Haygood also expanded the story into a book, "The Butler: A Witness to History," which was released earlier this summer.

In an interview with the Gazette in April, Haygood said he was prompted to write the story that eventually became the film because of Barack Obama's election in 2008. He said he wanted to find a black person who worked in the White House during segregation, someone for whom the idea of a black person becoming the president of the United States would have been unthinkable.

"I wanted to be ready with a big story to explain to America what this story means," Haygood said at the time.

He will sign copies of his books from 5 to 6 p.m., before his talk in September.

Haygood, who has won fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, was a copy editor and features writer for the Gazette in the early 1980s.

He also has written biographies of Sammy Davis Jr., Sugar Ray Robinson and Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the first black member of Congress from New York. His biography of Powell was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Previously featured UC Speaker Series guests have included astronaut Sally Ride, environmental activist Erin Brockovich and humorist Dave Barry.


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