Wil Haygood discusses his book, Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World, as kick-off to Drexel film retrospective!

Thursday, October 21, 2021 - 7:00pm
Drexel Theatre
2254 East Main Street
Bexley, OH 43209

In celebration of the release of Wil Haygood’s book, Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World, Gramercy Books is partnering with the Drexel Theatre for an evening of conversation and film that explores Black filmmaking in Hollywood. In this groundbreaking book, the author of The Butler and Showdown examines 100 years of Black movies—using the struggles and triumphs of the artists, and the films themselves, as a prism to explore Black culture and the civil rights movement in America. Haygood will introduce the series in conversation with Drexel Theatre Director Jeremy Henthorn, entertain a brief Q&A following that evening’s screening of Foxy Brown starring Pam Grier, and sign books in the Drexel lobby. 

The Drexel series will explore the history of black artists in Hollywood: from early uncredited films to the tour de force works of Oscar Micheaux, Sammy Davis Jr., Pam Grier, and Richard Roundtree to the expanding representation of present-day cinema. The kick-off film, Foxy Brown, is known as one of the most significant films of the blaxploitation genre. Featuring Pam Grier, one of the greatest film stars of the ‘70s, this Jack Hill-directed action thriller tackles racism and sexism through the eyes of one of the toughest female heroines ever to grace the screen.

Registration is on Eventbrite. Cost to attend the opening night is $10, which includes that evening's film screening of Foxy Brown, Wil’s talk, a Q&A, and a book signing. Colorization can also be purchased when registering, at Gramercy Books after its October 19th publication date, or at the event.

All attendees are required to wear a mask in the Drexel lobby, while seated unless actively eating, and during the book signing. Seating capacity has been set at 75% inside the theatre for this event. Proof of full vaccination or a recent negative Covid-19 test are also required to attend.

Beginning in 1915 with D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation--which glorified the Ku Klux Klan and became Hollywood's first blockbuster--Wil Haygood gives us an incisive, fascinating, little-known history, spanning more than a century, of Black artists in the film business, on-screen and behind the scenes. He makes clear the effects of changing social realities and events on the business of making movies and on what was represented on the screen: from Jim Crow and segregation to white flight and interracial relationships, from the assassination of Malcolm X to the O. J. Simpson trial, to the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Haygood considers the films themselves--including Imitation of Life, Gone with the Wind, Porgy and Bess, the Blaxploitation films of the seventies, Do The Right Thing, 12 Years a Slave, and Black Panther. And he brings to new light the careers and significance of a wide range of historic and contemporary figures: Hattie McDaniel, Sidney Poitier, Berry Gordy, Alex Haley, Spike Lee, Billy Dee Willliams, Richard Pryor, Halle Berry, Ava DuVernay, and Jordan Peele, among many others. 

An important, timely book, Colorization gives us both an unprecedented history of Black cinema and a groundbreaking perspective on racism in modern America. 

Wil Haygood is a former Boston Globe (where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist) and Washington Post reporter. Haygood has received writing fellowships from the Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Alicia Patterson Foundations. His biographies of Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Sammy Davis Jr., Sugar Ray Robinson, and Thurgood Marshall have been widely acclaimed. Haygood also wrote the New York Times bestseller, The Butler: A Witness to History, which was adapted into an award-winning movie. Haygood is currently serving an appointment as Boadway Visiting Distinguished Scholar at his alma mater, Miami University, Ohio. 

The Gramercy/Drexel book/film partnership is presented in conjunction with a series of city-wide events celebrating the publication of Colorization that includes the Columbus Metropolitan Library, the Columbus Metropolitan Club, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Gateway Film Center, the Lincoln Theatre, and the Wexner Center for the Arts.