Emmy Award-Winning Journalist and Civil Rights Activist Maynard Eaton has passed At 73
With a career spanning over five decades, multi-award-winning journalist, media communications professional, and College professor Maynard Eaton has died after a brief battle with lung cancer. Eaton, who was 73, leaves an impactful legacy in the field of journalism and community advocacy. Eaton was renowned as a multi-award-winning broadcast journalist, political columnist, media/public relations consultant, freelance writer, executive editor and college professor. Many say his most enduring legacy will be the plethora of journalists he trained and mentored during tenures as a professor at both Clark-Atlanta and Hampton Universities.
The son of Johnsie Leake Eaton and Jack Eaton, Maynard grew up in Orange, New Jersey. His wife Robin Eaton attributes his lifelong love of storytelling and journalism to him being a newspaper delivery boy as a child. His father would drive him on his Sunday route, “provided that Maynard read the paper to him and knew what was in it” said Robin.
After graduating from Hampton Institute’s Mass Media Arts Program, Eaton began his career in 1970 as WVEC-TV’s first African-American newsman. He would also work at WVEC in Miami, USA Today, BET and WXIA in Atlanta. Eaton earned a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. With a career that spanned more than five decades, Eaton left a legacy of impactful reporting and social change. Eaton conducted numerous high-profile news reports and interviews with heads of state, political giants, renowned entertainers, athletes, and civil rights leaders.
]For the past decade, he served as National Communications Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the legacy organization established by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Eaton was known for his news reporting on government from Atlanta City Hall to the Georgia Capitol, which endeared him to the citizens of metro Atlanta and Georgia. In 2022, Eaton returned to his alma mater as an Endowed Professor in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.
Eaton distinguished himself as one of the Country’s most influential media professionals. He was an eight-time Emmy Award winner for TV news reporting, was honored by the National Newspaper Publishers Award (NNPA, he won two Atlanta Association of Black Journalist awards for his excellence in writing and reporting, and won multiple honors from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens issued a statement that said, “For decades, Maynard Eaton was synonymous with journalism in Atlanta—covering Atlanta City Hall and the Gold Dome. An eight-time Emmy Award winner, his persistence and dedication to informing his audiences earned him numerous awards, but also the trust and respect of the community. Maynard worked to ensure Black voices were heard, and that Black communities had the same access to information as others—and Atlanta is a better city because of those efforts. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”
Hampton University President Darrell K. Williams said, “The passing of Maynard Eaton is a tremendous loss to the entire Hampton University family. Equally, his is a loss to the media profession and society. In this era when the media has the power to influence our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors, Professor Eaton’s body of work reminds us to pursue and protect
SCLC President Charles Steele, who worked with Eaton for over a decade said, “He brought his journalism skills to SCLC and an insight and expertise that is irreplaceable. He was committed to telling the story of the Movement and I will always remember with appreciation his dedication to his craft.”
In addition to his wife Robin, Eaton is survived by his sister Melba Eaton, his children Michelle Eaton-Dixon, Nicole Eaton, Mya Eaton-Fuller, Maynard Eaton, Jr., and his stepdaughter Colette Hill, grandchildren, great grandchildren and a nephew.
Memorial services are planned in Indiana, Hampton and Atlanta. The family has not determined the date of the Atlanta service.