Wil Haygood’s new book Tigerland: 1968-1969: A City Divided, A Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing, which will be released September 15 but is already receiving glowing reviews, will be the centerpiece of a Kent County Public Schools program this fall. The program—One School/One Book—seeks to provide every student in grades 8 through 12 with a personal copy to read in advance of meeting with the author. Haygood, who finished the book as a writing fellow at Washington College, will participate in Meet the Author events at the Kent County middle and high school on November 14th, meeting with both students and staff. He will also participate in an event that evening open to the entire community.
The book is especially relevant and inspirational for secondary school students, because it tells the true story of a segregated black high school in Columbus, Ohio, during the heights of the 1960’s civil rights movement. Against all odds, in a single year the school produced state championship teams (the Tigers) in both basketball and baseball as well as a highly acclaimed debate team. The book describes that effort in exciting detail, including profiling the coaches, teachers, and school principal who helped make it possible and Eddie “Rat” Ratleff, the star of both winning teams, who would go on to play for the 1972 U.S. Olympic basketball team.
Haygood is a cultural historian and an award-winning author of seven nonfiction books, including a book that led to the 2013 film The Butler (which he co-produced) about Eugene Allen, the African American butler who served eight U.S. Presidents (from Truman to Reagan) in the White House. Haygood, who grew up in Columbus and remembers watching the events chronicled in Tigerland, has said he is excited to participate in the One School/One Book program here, because he believes there are parallels between Kent County and the story told in the book.
According to KCPS Superintendent Karen Couch, student and community involvement intensify when a whole school reads a book together. Tigerland’s publisher has agreed to make the book available for half price for this program. The school system is seeking donations to raise $10,000 to ensure every child in the relevant grades and each of their teachers receives a copy of the book. Donations can be made to the Kent County Public Schools Special Projects Fund, c/o Chesapeake Charities, 101 Log Canoe Circle, Suite O, Stevensville, MD 21666, or on-line at www.chesapeakecharities.org/fund/kent-county-public-schools-special-projects/.
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