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If ever there was someone for whom a memoir was befitting, its Jon Haggins. Rarely do most of us have the opportunity to embark upon such amazing journeys. From his modest roots in a small Florida town to Manhattan, Jon truly has seen it all. Yet, I get the unmistakable impression that there is still so much more to come.
The term “done it all”, has been tossed around more than a baseball, but when it’s used in context with Jon, this is no overstatement. The memoir, entitled, Yes I Can should be tops on your summer reading list. Of his message, Jon says, “ I want people realize they can do anything, all they need is a dream and to take action.”
I could almost feel the life and energy vibrating through the phone during our interview. Bursting with knowledge of all places he’s visited all the things he’s experienced, Jon is a true man of the world – though don’t think for a second he’s entertained finding another home somewhere. “I could never live anyplace else but New York,” he chuckled.
Jon relocated to New York when he was about 10 and oddly, it was there that experienced his first encounters with racism. He recalls the segregation of Florida as almost and insulation to the harsh realities of race. In Yes I Can, a story of inspiration, he recounts a favorite quote from Lena Horne that best described the scene in New York at the time, “They don’t know much about us, and what they do know they got from Tarzan…”. Certainly paints a grim picture of what Jon had to contend with on his road to success.
Always interested in fashion, Jon naturally studied fashion in school. He had a successful career as a fashion designer, dressing the stars, including Diana Ross, Debbie Allen, Racquel Welch and Diahann Carroll to name a few. The Museum of the City of New York featured a retrospective of his fashion designs, and the Schomburg Library acquired his fashion archive of photographs and editorials. Always reading to embrace a new challenge, John went on to work as a travel and food writer. His most recent ventures inlude motivational speaking and producer and host of GlobeTrotter TV.
Yes I Can is not Jon’s first book. He is also the author of The African American Travel Guide. Recognizing the value and educational importance of travel, Jon was inspired to pen the guide in order to help pave the way for other African American travelers. The first half of the book covers basics such as packing, obtaining a Visa and exchanging money.
In the second part of the book he shares exotic travel experiences around the world, including Egypt, Senegal, Morocco, Ghana, The Ivory Coast, Gambia, South Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean Islands. In fact, for 3 years, Jon organized and led trips from the US to Africa. Be on the lookout for the next book – a chronicle of some of Jon’s latest travel destinations.
Jon is passionate in his feelings about the importance of travel, especially for African Americans. He recounted a story of a young man he met during his travels that despite the fact that he had little formal schooling, yet spoke 3 languages – just by picking them up from tourists. These and other stories of the incredible people he’s met further outline the importance and mutual benefits of travel.
Juggling his writing, travels, the tv show and speaking, there’s almost no such thing as a typical day for Jon. One thing is for certain, he’s living it to the fullest and serves as an example for us all that with a dream, anything is possible.
For more information, please visit Jon’s website: www.globetrottertv.blogspot.com. GlobeTrotter TV is a weekly half-hour lifestyle travel show currently seen by 2 million homes in NYC on Time/Warner Channel 67 or RCN Channel 85, Sundays at 9pm EST
To purchase Jon’s Memoir, Yes I Can: Make check payable to: Jon Haggins PO Box 20902 New York City 10023 $16.95 plus $4.00 S&H