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Prominent Civil Rights journalist, former 11Alive reporter Maynard Eaton dies

Eaton, 73, was an eight-time Emmy Award winning journalist. He died late Tuesday evening after a short battle with lung cancer.

ATLANTA — Former 11Alive reporter and Civil Rights activist Maynard Eaton passed away late Tuesday evening after a battle with lung cancer, Eaton Media Group confirmed. 

Eaton was a pioneer in Atlanta political reporting, leaving behind several decades worth of impactful reporting on the metro area. In his tenure, he won eight Emmy Awards and left a powerful mark on the media industry, according to a release from Eaton Media Group.

He was a political reporter for 11Alive and worked as the first African American news anchor for sister station WVEC in Hampton, where he first got his start in journalism in 1970.

Eaton graduated from Hampton University that same year, recently "[coming] full-circle with his appointment as Endowed Professor of Journalism" at the university, the release said.

He was one of the most influential Black journalists to enter the industry, later paving the way and educating future journalists during his time at Clark-Atlanta and Hampton Universities, the release added.

While being a reporter for 11Alive from 1978 to 1986, he was a political commentator for some programs, dedicating his time to covering the Atlanta City Council and Gold Dome, focusing primarily on issues within the Black community.

The release also added that Eaton also became the national communications director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which is also Dr. Martin Luther King’s Legacy Organization.

SCLC President Dr. Charles Steele worked with Eaton for over a decade and was always impressed by the way he transferred his journalism skills to his position with passion.

“He was committed to telling the story of the Movement and I will always remember with appreciation his dedication to his craft," Dr. Steele said.

On top of his Emmy Awards, he also collected numerous awards and honors for the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Newspaper Publishers Award and Communication Excellence to Black Audiences.

Eaton also covered stories on Atlanta's most prevalent and prestigious Civil Rights icons including Ambassador Andrew Young and Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. 

Eaton most recently wrote feature articles for NABJ Black News & Views and Spelman College Messenger.  

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens issued the following statement on Eaton's passing:

“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.”

The Atlanta City Council also issued a statement about the legacy of Eaton's journalism. Read the statement below.

“As a leading figure in the media industry, Maynard Eaton was instrumental in shaping journalism and the communications field, particularly in Georgia politics. He worked to ensure that the experiences and perspectives of Black communities were heard and helped to guide and mentor young journalists. As we reflect on his legacy, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

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