Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Robert C. Maynard

You have to love someone who drops out of school because it got in the way of his writing, only a few years later to study Journalism at Harvard (on a scholarship no less).

Robert Maynard moved through the journalism world to become Chief Editor of the Oakland Tribune. Two years later he became the owner, the first African-American to own a major metropolitan newspaper. He turned what was a  struggling paper around to receive recognition a few years later in the form of the Pulitzer Prize.

He was recognized for giving a platform to community-led organizations and initiatives and was not afraid to focus on local issues and injustices. He also co-founded a foundation that encouraged and trained young African-American journalists and is credited with helping inspire over a thousand such men and women.

A tribute to his life is posted at the Maynard Institute where he is quoted as saying in one of his last public appearances: “This country cannot be the country we want it to be if its story is told by only one group of citizens. Our goal is to give all Americans front door access to the truth,”

In a period of time when many countries are testing the waters of democracy, we must all acknowledge that a free and accessible press is a cornerstone of a free and informed society. We all love Glen Beck or Jon Stewart (there might even be some who love both – true news junkies) and they both have their place in the information model, but it is what lies between these polarities that will define how free our society truly can be.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/

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