Tigerland tells the story of two high school sports teams in 1968 who beat tremendous odds to win state championships.
Tigerland tells the story of two high school sports teams in 1968 who beat tremendous odds to win state championships.

Class of 2022 will learn about civil rights during Convocation

Alumnus, best-selling author Wil Haygood writes of triumph during racial tensions of the '60s

In a series of videos, Wil Haygood talks about researching and writing his new book. View all videos at www.MiamiOH.edu/tigerland.

About 5,000 incoming first-year students at Miami University will be the first to receive a new book from best-selling author and alumnus Wil Haygood Aug. 24. This exclusive release is part of Convocation 2018 as Miami begins fall semester.

In 1968, civil rights leaders were killed and social tensions spiked. One of the great untold stories of that year will be released to the public Sept. 18.

In a special arrangement, Haygood's publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, agreed to a special early delivery of Tigerland: 1968-1969, A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing to Miami.

Tigerland is part of Miami’s Summer Reading Program. When they arrive on campus, students will have consumed a variety of media from the 1960s and today.

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President Greg Crawford and Wil Haygood announce his book debut in an April 2018 special event.

The public is invited to Convocation

Haygood will speak to students at 9 a.m. Friday, Aug. 24, at the university’s Oxford campus. The public is invited to attend the event at the Freedom Summer Memorial (located on Western Campus). More information is available online at www.miamioh.edu/tigerland.

Tigerland is highly anticipated. It is an inspiring story of two teams from a segregated high school in Ohio who in the midst of the racial turbulence of 1968-1969 won the state basketball and baseball championships in the same year.

Following the assassinations that year of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, race relations in the U.S. were frayed.

But in Columbus, Ohio, the Tigers of East High School stayed focused, defeating teams from better-resourced schools across the state.

The Tigers’ pair of championships was an unprecedented feat in Class AA Ohio athletic history.

Haygood, a Columbus native, remembers seeing the teams play.

“The story reached out to me from my past,” he said. “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.”

Tigerland book cover

Wil Haygood will sign 5,000 copies of his new book for Miami students.

Excerpts give hints into the power of their story

"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.”

About the author

A former writer for The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, Haygood penned the story "A Butler Well Served by this Election" for The Post. The article became the basis for the award-winning 2013 film "The Butler" and for Haygood’s New York Times’ best-selling book of the same name. The Butler was translated into a dozen foreign languages.

Haygood, a 1976 alumnus, is also an award-winning biographer of Thurgood Marshall, Sammy Davis Jr., Adam Clayton Powell and others.

He is a Visiting Distinguished Professor in Miami's department of media, journalism and film. He has received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and the 2017 Patrick Henry Fellowship Literary Award for his research on Tigerland.