“This exhibition has its origins in September 2015, when the Lincoln Theater Association and the King Arts Complex celebrated the release of Wil Haygood’s book Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America,” said Columbus Museum of Art Executive Director Nannette V. Maciejunes. “For those of us in the audience, it became clear that much of Wil’s writing has been connected to the Harlem Renaissance and its continuing legacy. For myself, it became clear that Wil was the perfect person to curate an exhibition exploring the Harlem Renaissance.”
Guest Curator Wil Haygood grew up on the Near East Side of Columbus in a jazz-filled landscape that was an exuberant legacy of the Harlem Renaissance. He is best known as the author of The Butler, which was turned into an award-winning movie featuring, among others, Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Alan Rickman, and Vanessa Redgrave. Haygood has also written biographies of Sammy Davis Jr., Sugar Ray Robinson and Thurgood Marshall, among others. In 1983, he was dispatched by the Boston Globe to write a three-part series on the Harlem Renaissance, which put him in direct contact with many of the artists. In his selections for the exhibition and his writing in the accompanying catalog, he captures the range and breadth of a sweeping movement, which saw the blossoming of a myriad of talents by an astonishing array of black artists, writers and musicians.