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*Joan Maynard was born on this date in 1928. She was a Black commercial artist, art administrator, and community preservation activist.
Joan Cooper Bacchus Maynard was born in Brooklyn, NY the daughter of John W. Cooper, a ventriloquist, and Juliana St. Bernard Cooper of Grenada. She graduated from Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School and became a scholarship student at the Art Career School in Manhattan. She also was a graduate of Empire College of the State University of New York. She attended Columbia University as a Revson Fellow and received an honorary doctorate from the Bank Street College of Education. She was a champion of historic preservation and education through museum development.
Maynard was a commercial artist in the 1960s, working as an art director for McGraw-Hill. She also used her artistic talent to present the history of people of African descent. She illustrated and wrote for Golden Legacy Magazine, which presented Black history in comic book format. She also illustrated covers for Crisis Magazine of the NAACP and she created The Family of AMA, a 40-panel storyboard painting with text that illustrated the African Diaspora. In 1968 Maynard was a founding member of the Society for the Preservation of Weeksville & Bedford-Stuyvesant History. She served as its president from 1972 to 1974 when she became the Society’s first executive director, serving until October 1999.
She was director emeritus of the Weeksville Heritage Center (the name the Society adopted in 2005) and ex-officio trustee of the Center’s Board of Trustees until her death. Thankfully, she lived to see Weeksville’s historic Hunterfly Roadhouses restored and reopened to the public with a keynote speech delivered by Hillary Clinton. Widely recognized for her preservation work, Maynard was honored as a Restore America Hero by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Home & Garden Television (HGTV). She received the highest honor awarded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, its Louise DuPont Crowinshield Award.
She also received a Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy, for which she served as a board member. Maynard received a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award from Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. Her greatest honor, however, might easily have come from any individual walking by the restored houses with a proud smile. Nurturing a sense of identity and linking us to our rich history was Joan’s driving desire. Joan Maynard died on January 22, 2006.
Image: Randy Duchaine