Robert. C. Maynard was a trailblazing journalist who defied odds by becoming the first Black owner of a major newspaper on this day in 1983.
Maynard’s miraculous journey from high school dropout to becoming the editor and owner of The Oakland Tribune began with him chasing his dreams in the 1950s. Born June 17, 1937 in Brooklyn, New York to immigrant parents from Barbados, Maynard discovered a love of writing early on.
At 16, inspired by his love of courtroom reporting, Maynard dropped out of high school and began working for the New York Age, a former African-American news weekly. Maynard then reported for the Afro-American News in Baltimore before landing his first major job working for Pennsylvania’s York Gazette and Daily in 1961.
In 1965, the Neiman Foundation for Journalism awarded Maynard with a year-long fellowship. In 1967, Maynard joined The Washington Post and became the paper’s first Black national correspondent. In 1977, Maynard left The Post to open the University of California, Berkeley-based Institute for Journalism Education with his journalist wife, Nancy Hicks Maynard.
The center, which helps train minority students preparing for journalism careers and beyond, has since been renamed the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. Maynard joined the Oakland Tribune after being hired by the Gannett group. The paper serviced the mostly Black Oakland region and was failing miserably in comparison to larger, White-owned Bay Area publications.