Back in 1968, civil rights leaders were murdered, leading to great social tensions. One of great untold stories that happened that very same year is now readily available from the same author whose story brought us the movie The Butler. The movie focused on celebrating freedom and civil rights. Wil Haygood now brings Tigerland: 1968-1969 A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing, in August 24th 2018 at Miami University’s convocation.
Haygood, is a 1976 Miami alumni and he says his hope is that his story will be a tool to inspire better race relations in America. Miami’s Class of 2022 will be the first people to receive copies of his new book. And even better, some of the new students will study Haygood’s book in their University studies this fall.
The Miami University’s website describes Tigerland as, “That year, despite tremendous odds, both the baseball and basketball teams at the segregated, all-black East High School won the state championships—an unprecedented feat in Class AA Ohio athletic history. Tigerland puts this spirited story of improbable triumph in the context of the racially charged late 1960s, which results in an inspiring sports story and a singularly illuminating social history.”
After Haygood graduated from Miami in 1976, he became a journalist, for three decades. He worked with The Boston Globe, The Washington Post and others. The University’s site describes his time at the Washington Post as, “While at the Washington Post, he wrote the article “A Butler Well Served by This Election,” which served as the basis of the award-winning 2013 Lee Daniels film “The Butler.”
Many are looking forward to Tigerland, which will bring to light the story of two teams who overcame racial turbulence surrounding the 1968-1969, and won baseball and basketball championships. Despite the assassination at that time, the teams held on to their dreams and determinations to come out shinning. Haygood says he saw the teams play, explaining, ““The story reached out to me from my past. It kept asking me to dig deeper and deeper into the fabric of our nation’s past. Although it’s about winning against stiff competition, it’s also a cultural history of our country.”
Excerpts from the book include:
“They played most of their basketball games through that cold winter in a converted rodeo cow palace on the Ohio State Fairgrounds, where you could still get whiffs of the horse manure, but no one seemed to mind as the East High Tigers couldn’t stop winning. The gym at the high school couldn’t accommodate the thousands who wanted to see them play.”
“They were poor boys, which into the turmoil of a nation at war and unrest; they were the sons of maids and dishwashers, and cafeteria workers. They were too proud to beg but not to ask or borrow.” … “It was here, up and down Mt. Vernon Ave., that salesmen and saleswomen began at first pinning those pictures of the slain Martin Luther King Jr. to the storefront windows. Then, a short while later; to the same walls and windows, they began pinning portraits of those basketball-playing and baseball-playing boys from the neighborhood.”