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Robert C. Maynard
Robert C. Maynard was born on this date in 1937. He was a Black newspaper editor, publisher, writer, and social commentator.
Maynard, the son of an immigrant from Barbados who founded a New York moving company, dropped out of a Brooklyn high school at the age of 16 to become a writer in Greenwich Village in the 1950s. He had a photographic memory, and mastered myriad subjects through reading and query. He attended Harvard on a Nieman fellowship in 1965-66, and eventually received eight honorary doctorates. His early role models, writers Langston Hughes and Ernest Hemingway, later gave way to his hero, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
But he never wanted people to follow his path away from formal education. "I say to young people today that they must stay in school," he wrote in a column. "Autodidacts, self teachers, are of another age, I tell them. School today is imperative. All the same, my adventures suited me and served me well. My sisters even agree, grudgingly." Maynard was most proud of the Elijah Parish Lovejoy award he received from Colby College in Maine.
In 1975, Maynard met his bride-to-be, then-New York Times reporter Nancy Hicks. He was a reporter for Black weekly newspapers including the New York Age-Defender and the Baltimore Afro-American. He also was the affirmative action consultant to the Gannett newspaper chain in the late 1970’s.
He was a regular contributor to television’s “This Week with David Brinkley,” and from 1979 to 1992; he was editor in chief, publisher, and owner of the Oakland Tribune. Maynard was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1988. It went into remission twice, but returned a third time in 1992 and was a factor in the family's decision to sell the newspaper. Even through his illness, Maynard was the quintessential optimist. Robert Maynard died in August 1993.
Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and
African American Experience
Editors: Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.