Resourceful, resilient and transformational, Vietnam Era Veteran Haywood Fennell knows how to reach out to the community with gusto. We look forward to honoring him at the March 3rd Black History Breakfast.
Fusing Compassion and Community, Learning and Literacy, Haywood Fennell, Sr. continues to add dimensions to his writings. Born in New York City, the now Boston resident recently self-published the first book from The Coota Experiences Trilogy, Coota and the Magic Quilt, (ISBN No. 0-9720404-0-4) and has completed writing the second book, Coota and the Challenge. (ISBN 0-97204046-3).
A well-respected figure in Boston, Haywood is often called a Renaissance Man because of his prolific writings, which draw upon our history for his source material. He is an ex-offender who has refused to allow his past mistakes to hold him “hostage.” He is well known throughout the City of Boston as an advocate for prison reform. A great deal of his work centers around transitional services. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Stanley Jones Clean Slate Project; an ex-offender think tank working to educate and to empower those marginalized by the CORI Laws. Haywood advocates for professional social/mental health services as soon as the person enters the prison system. He helps by visiting jails and prisons and talking about the importance of opening up to change the mindset from wanting to be a smooth criminal to become with skills development a taxpayers a opposed to tax-burden.
Also, a Vietnam Era veteran, who served nearly six years in the US Army as a clerk, photographer, and information specialist, Haywood founded The Tri-Ad Veterans’ League; a veterans’ rights advocacy organization where the members incorporate their military skills with program development for educational/cultural programs, particularly around incarceration and HIV/AIDS. The League recently partnered again with The Boston Local Vulcans Society of African-American Firefighters to produce the annual (televised) 9/11 Memorial Service. Presently, the veterans’ organization he founded works withNortheastern University to improve health care services. Their current project focuses on health disparities for African-American veterans that seek health care from the Veterans Administration Medical Centers.
Haywood co-hosts a popular weekly cable television program called Speaking About, which welcomes a weekly guest list of community champions who have updates to share and ideas to discuss. This soft-spoken author/playwright has written, produced and staged eight annual performances of the cultural education play,The Harlem Renaissance Revisited With a Boston Flavor (the show’s title will change in the 2007 season toA Story from the Harlem Renaissance.)
Haywood attended public school in Wilmington, N.C. and on to Boston University where he studied Urban Planning and U/Mass Boston’s College of Community and Public Service studying Urban Issues. He is the Boston Editor for Unity First, a Springfield, MA based diversity community newspaper. Haywood received the prestigious Boston Neighborhood Fellow’s Award in 2003. He serves on the Advisory Board of the William Monroe Trotter Institute at U/Mass Boston and sits on the board at Boston’s Urban League. He is a lecturer on the Harlem Renaissance Era and its importance to American history and served as a member of the Judging Committee for Reflection in Action; Building Healthy Communities, sponsored byThe Harvard Medical School Office for Diversity and Community Partnership and as a Presenter for theCommunity Enrichment Fellows 2004 and as a member of Roxbury Community College Community Advisory Group. He was named as Boston Herald Literacy Hero in 2005.
He was honored on November 4th, 2005 as one of the 100 Distinguished Black Men sponsored by ThePrince Hall Masons of Boston, MA. When speaking to youth, and especially on prison visits, Haywood talks about his going from stealing books to writing books and how is life was changed by other people praying for him, when he would not pray for himself. Haywood’s second Coota book, Coota and the Challenge, will release in early 2007. In 2006 he completed This Man: Thoughts About Our Times, an anthology of his of poetry and prose. He also enjoys freelance photography.
The Black History Month Breakfast will be held on Thursday March 3, 2016 at the Boston Colonnade Hotel from 8:30 am to 11:00 am.
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