the Caldwell Journals
 

INTRODUCTION

 
Nearly 40 years ago, a young black man took a job at his hometown daily newspaper in rural Pennsylvania. It was a rare occurrence for that generation.

Earl Caldwell, then 22 years old, could not grasp the significance of that event, nor could he forecast the tempestuous decades that would sweep him and hundreds of other journalists of color into the thunderous fold of civil rights history.

Caldwell covered that history for eight newspapers over 35 years with a distinction rare in his profession. But he also made a portion of it. He was an extraordinary witness to events at the moment of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. His struggle against the federal government's attempts to appropriate his confidential notes and to force him to spy on the Black Panther party, which he was covering for the New York Times, reached the Supreme Court.

Caldwell's story is intertwined with those of all the pioneers who courageously broke the color barrier in America's newspapers to capture the true inside story of the 1960s. Robert C. Maynard, who also held his first mainstream news job in a nearby Pennsylvania town, began a lifelong friendship with Caldwell and joined him in the great adventure of covering the decade that telescoped a century.

The Maynard Institute for Journalism Education is proud to present the Caldwell Journals, a serialized account of those stormy years. This series captures the dramatic tale of the journalist behind the words, the journalist as player. Collaborating with Caldwell is Leroy F. Aarons, currently a visiting professor of journalism at the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California, as the line editor of the narrative. Caldwell and Aarons share a journalistic history that dates back to the mid-1960s, when Caldwell was at The New York Times and Aarons, the Washington Post.

The Caldwell Journals constitutes the first phase of the Maynard IJE History Project, an ambitious undertaking of the Maynard Institute. It is headed by Dori J. Maynard, the MIJE communications director and daughter of the late Robert C. Maynard.

Launching the project, Maynard Institute president Steve Montiel said, "The experiences of journalists of color are part of the untold history of a news revolution. Their stories are important to all of us – from young people whose textbooks tell little about the integration of newsrooms to veteran professionals and executives who are struggling to provide coverage that enables us to see ourselves and our diverse communities whole."

While preparing this series, Earl Caldwell is writer in residence at MIJE's national office in Oakland, Calif.

 















MIJE

 


The Caldwell Journals



Biography


Earl Caldwell, a nationally-renown journalist who was witness to some of the most important events of the last 40 years, is a writer-in-residence at the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education in Oakland, California.

At the Institute, as part of a history project, Caldwell will write a serialized account of the black journalist movement spawned by the civil rights revolution of the 1960s. His articles on this much-neglected aspect of journalism will be published on the institute's site on the worldwide web. During his stay in Oakland, Caldwell will participate in archiving his collected papers and those of Institute founder and former Oakland Tribune publisher Robert C. Maynard. He will also work on a biography of Maynard's years as a reporter.

As a journalist, Earl Caldwell was the central figure in one of the century's most celebrated cases involving reporters' rights. While a reporter at The New York Times, he stood against the FBI of J. Edgar Hoover and the Justice Department of Richard Nixon in refusing to spy, inform or disclose confidential information involving his sources in the Black Panther party. When the government attempted to force his appearance before a grand jury investigating the Panthers, Caldwell chose to be in contempt rather than answer a supoena. His position was upheld in the U.S. Court of Appeals. The government took the case -United States v. Caldwell- to the United States Supreme Court. In 1972, the High Court ruled against Caldwell in a 5-4 decision.

The "Caldwell case" led to the enactment in many states of shield laws to enable reporters to protect sources and information. Issues raised in the "Caldwell case" also prompted the creating of the Washington based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Caldwell is a member of the organization's steering committee.

 Mr. Caldwell, whose career in newspaper journalism spans four decades, is author of "Black American Witness, Reports from the Front." His book, published by Lion House of Washington, D.C., is a collection from newspaper column which appeared three times a week in the New York Daily News from 1980 until 1994. At the New York Times from 1967 through 1974, Caldwell covered many of the stories that shaped an era. He was the lone reporter at the Lorraine Motel in April of 1968 at the moment of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He covered the riots that swept black America during the summer of 1967. He covered the Poor People's campaign; he was a reporter on the streets of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention and he also covered the murder trial of scholar Angela Davis. In his Daily News column, he covered the Atlanta child murders and the trial and convicted killer Wayne Williams. He reported Jesse Jackson's historic 1984 run for the presidency. In Africa, he reported the fall of the white minority government in Rhodesia and the birth of the nation of Zimbabwe.

In 1995, National Association of Black Journalists president and Washington Post columnist Dorothy Gilliam presented Caldwell with the organizations prestigious President's Award and said his record of achievement had made him "one of the most important journalists of the last 50 years." A year earlier, the New York Association of Black Journalists presented Caldwell with a lifetime achievement award. Caldwell's writing on African issues and his reporting from the United Nations, earned him special recognition from the Global Concerns Committee at the UN where he is a member of the Correspondents Association. Although he made his mark as a big city journalist, Earl Caldwell is a product of small town America. He was raised in the Central Pennsylvania town of Clearfield and received his early training in journalism there under the late George A. Scott, who was the long time editor of The Progress, the daily newspaper published in Clearfield. Earl Caldwell reached the top in journalism the old fashioned way; he climbed the ladder from small newspapers to mid-sized markets to the big leagues. He was on staff at the Intelligencer-Journal in Lancaster, PA; the Democrat and The Chronicle in Rochester, NY and the Herald Tribune and The Post in New York City before joining the New York Times. Through the 1980's, along with his newspaper column, he also was a regular commentator on Spectrum, an opinion series broadcast daily over the CBS radio network.

Earl Caldwell has a 25-year involvement in the effort to bring greater diversity to the nation's newsrooms. In 1972, he served with Bob Maynard as co-director of the Summer Program for Minority Journalists at Columbia University in New York. He is also a founding director of the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. In New York, he serves as an organizer of the Social Justice journalism awards at Hunter College.

In addition to his work at the Institute, Caldwell is also involved in two other writing projects – the King assassination and the case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Caldwell was educated at the University of Buffalo. Together with his writing, he often lectures on college campuses and is a commentator on radio and television. He lives in New York City.

 




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MIJE

 


The Caldwell Journals



1. The Colored Kid from Clearfield


The monster that I saw was called "the sewer-pipe plant." Early on, my father told me, "If you don't learn how to do something, that's where you're going to wind up." And the way he explained it, the sewer pipe was no place for a man to work. "It will kill you," he said. But that was not the end of it. After my junior year of high school, he arranged for me to work there through the summer. That was all the warning I needed.


I went off to college, enrolled as a business student at the University of Buffalo. That ended after two years. A professor arranged for a summer job. He sent me to Philadelphia for an interview. "But you won't be working here," I was told. "You will have to go down south. Maybe to Alabama. There are some large black insurance companies down there. They'll hire you. You know, since you're black, you'll have to work for a black company."


I was crushed. For me, the South was the land of the boogeyman. My parents were from the South. I had heard my father talk of the way life was there for blacks. He had hated it. There was no way I was going down south for anything. Especially not to work. What I was told in the interview that day ended my pursuit of a degree in business, where I had been majoring in insurance. So I ended up back home, which was Clearfield, a small town nestled in the mountains of central Pennsylvania.


"You have two choices," my father said. "You get a job or you join the army."


I did not like the idea of the army, and I knew that getting a job surely meant going to the plant where they used clay – plentiful in the mountains of that section of Pennsylvania – to manufacture pipe for sewer lines. They made pipe in all sizes, some weighing as much as a thousand pounds. And there were no machines. You lifted the pipe and you moved them on wheelbarrows. The kilns where they were baked were so hot that the men who removed them, to protect their feet from serious burns, padded the soles on their shoes with rubber cut from old automobile tires. It was a monster of a place to work.


I got lucky. Frank Cardon, my buddy from high school, was sports editor at
The Progress, the local newspaper. I explained to him the bind I found
myself in, and he said, "There's a job open here in the sports department.
I'm sure you can get it. I'll put a good word in for you."


I got the job. At the start, I read proofs. I answered phones. And I began to write stories. Mostly they were short pieces, stories of junior varsity and high school sports events. From the start, I loved the work. I loved being in a newspaper office. I loved writing a story and then going back to the composing room and watching the printers as they took the type from the Linotype machines and made up the pages of the newspaper. Everything about the business, I loved it.


Newspapers had always been a large part of my life. In the evening, my father always had a newspaper to read. The Progress was delivered every afternoon. We had a subscription to The Grit, a weekly paper. And on Sundays, we always got a city newspaper, either the Post Gazette from Pittsburgh or The Inquirer from Philadelphia. Clearfield had a population of about 5,000 and almost everybody was white. For the few of us who were black, our link to the black world was the Pittsburgh Courier. It came every Friday, and it was through the Courier, a black newspaper, that I followed the exploits of my hero, Jackie Robinson. And it was through all of those newspapers that I fell in love with reading. At night, when she had her quiet time, my mom and I would sit at the kitchen table and I would read to her the stories from the newspaper that I particularly liked. I learned to read so well that in school, nobody could stay with me. Once, a teacher asked, "Who ever taught you to read like that?"


At The Progress, Friday was payday and everybody on the staff was given a little brown envelope. There were no checks; everybody was paid cash. "Because they don't want anybody to know how little they pay us, " grumbled the veterans on the staff. To me, the money didn't matter. I had something far more valuable. I had a byline: "Earl Caldwell, Progress Sports Writer."


I had never even dreamed of working at a newspaper. Even though not a day went by that I did not read at least one newspaper, to actually earn a living as a reporter was something I had never imagined. In 1957, though, there I was in The Progress newsroom, a colored kid from Clearfield who had done what was nearly impossible: I didn't join the army and I didn't wind up at the sewer-pipe plant.

 

 



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The Caldwell Journals


2. George A.Scott: A Master Teacher


Just being there. That was the best part. There was no outside world. They were years when all that mattered was the process of learning to become what I called "a newspaperman." And at The Progress then, there was a master teacher. His name was George A. Scott and he was the editor.


Most reporters now who make it to the top in the newspaper business get their polish at universities that have what is called a graduate school of journalism. It has become a credential that is virtually a must in big-league journalism. It wasn't always like that. When I broke in, you learned the craft another way. You hooked on at a small paper and you had editors who took the time and considered it a part of their responsibility to teach you everything they knew. To have an editor as skilled as George Scott take you under his wing and teach you all that he could, that was the best thing that could happen. I got that break.


When I first began to work under him, George scared the hell out of me. He would dart around the newsroom –sleeves rolled to the elbow, green eyeshade, a cigarette in his mouth, in his hand or in his ashtray – and he didn't mince his words. If you screwed up, he'd let you know.


He'd do it right then and there. Make the same mistake twice, shame on you. He would go off. And when he did, he would curse a blue streak. He wasn't a big guy either. He was about five-six, five-seven, and no more than 150 pounds. He was about 50 then, and for as long as I knew him, he always had his hair crew cut.


Hard as he could be on you if you messed up, he was there with the right words of praise when you did a good job. And he knew. He had been in big-league journalism and he easily could have made it at the top. He chose to work in a small town. It was where he wanted to raise his family. At The Progress, he trained a lot of young reporters. That's what small papers do. They take young people who want to learn and they show them the way, and even while they are doing it, they understand that the best will fly away. They expect that to happen.


George Scott believed that I had the spark, that something special a reporter strives for. When Frank Cardon left The Progress for a larger paper, George appointed me sports editor. I had maybe two years on the job.


Being the sports editor on any newspaper is a big deal. As sports editor, you make decisions. And a lot of the time, things you decide upset a lot of people. On a small newspaper, they're not the fans of professional athletes who make a ton of money who come at you. Your big stories are of high school games. Your critics are parents talking about "my son" and "our kids," and sometimes disputes get serious and turn nasty.


George never left me out there on a limb. And he never allowed race to become an issue. It wasn't that I never encountered racism in Clearfield. Confrontations based on race did take place from time to time in cafes and in the streets and other places. But in the newsroom at the The Progress, where George Scott had his way and where he set the rules, racism did not come in there. And that was because he would not allow it. It was something he wouldn't tolerate, and I never heard or saw anybody try and challenge him on that.


To look back on it now, maybe the most precious thing that George did for me was to put up the fence that was the protection that allowed me to have those years where all I had to do was to focus on the task of becoming a newspaperman.


And once that was done and he knew that it was time for me to move to another level, to make that happen, he used his influence and his contacts. By 1960, I was headed to Lancaster, in southeastern Pennsylvania, where I would join the sports staff of the morning newspaper, the Intelligencer-Journal.


At the end, George said to me, "If you were going to one of these small
papers around here,
I wouldn't let you go. But that's a good newspaper in Lancaster; it's a
real nice step up for you."

And then he shook my hand, wished me well and that was it. There was no hug, nothing emotional. That wasn't his way; his approach was almost military. Through the years that followed though I was to learn of the deep feeling that George had for me. He kept track of every twist and turn in my career. In his column in the newspaper, he wrote of my every accomplishment. Awards that I won still hang on the wall in The Progress newsroom. He also wrote of my parents. On the occasion of their 70th wedding anniversary, a color photograph appeared on page one. On my father's 100th birthday, there was a big story. And when my mother reached 100, it was the same for her. And always there, prominent in the story, was the mention that they were the parents of Earl Caldwell, a former Progress writer.

The last time I saw George he was very sick. "He won't recognize you," his
daughter said to me. "He doesn't know anyone anymore." But that day when I
walked into the room and spoke to him, his eyes opened and I saw in them the
light of recognition. And that was our goodbye.

 




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The Caldwell Journals




3. Leaving the Nest

I'd done six months in the army reserves. I'd been away at college. But this
was different. This was good-bye to the life I knew. I was leaving my nest.

I'd miss Clearfield. I'd miss my job, my friends, the neighborhood. I'd miss
going to Buster's, hanging out, knowing everybody, playing ball, and
drinking cold beer with the guys in the park at the fire tower where we
celebrated winning big games.


Clearfield was the safe place that had always been there for me. It didn't
just happen. My parents dedicated their lives to making that a reality. They
were raised in the South of more than a century ago. They understood racial
terrorism. They saw the work of the Klan. They had friends and family who
were among the victims. And they did what many blacks did in those days. To
raise their family, they got as far away from there as they could. They settled
in Pennsylvania because there was work but, even more important, because there was a chance to build a safe place for their children.


Mom was special. There was nothing she couldn't do. She was especially
skilled in preparing wild game, which was hunted by my father, who had a
stash of at least 10 hunting guns. She was great with pheasant and venison,
but my favorite was her rabbit. She had a big blue roasting pot, and
sometimes she would have two rabbits in it, baking in a rich, brown gravy,
and they were more than delicious. We ate well. We had big gardens, and my
father knew how to grow everything. Especially tomatoes, corn, lettuce,
peppers, onions, potatoes and greens. We had pear trees, cherry trees, apple
trees – and my mom made jelly and pies, and she was very good too baking
cookies and cake


Often at dinner on Sunday, we'd have guests. The few blacks who lived in our
region of Pennsylvania were scattered about. Sunday they came to town for
church, and afterwards two or three families might come to dinner. Other
black neighbors would stop by, and there would be part meeting, part social
gathering. The men would sit and talk on the porch. The kids would be in the
yard, and the women would gather in the living room. Often they'd bring
quilts or rugs or other items they had made. Sometimes they were gifts;
sometimes they traded one item for another. Whatever problems one black
family had, the men shared that information and made decisions about what
they would do.


My father was a big man. "The strongest man in Clearfield County," I was
once told. And that meant something. Nobody messed with him. Some feared him. He commanded respect. For a short time, Dad worked at the sewer-pipe
plant. He quit that job. "It wasn't work fit for a man to do," he explained.
Dad had a barbershop in the basement of our house. He started cutting hair
during the Depression years, when a lot of blacks were in the area at CCC
camps. He was sought after as a gardener. And he virtually ran the operation
at a small lumber company.


In a small town, everybody knows everybody. When you are black and almost
everyone else in the town is white -- which was the case for us in
Clearfield -- you do not face a lot of the racial problems that blacks in
cities face. In the small town, everything is not built on stereotypes.
People know you. They know your family. They know where you live and where
you work and the kind of person you are. And that cuts both ways. Blacks see
whites as individuals. It is not "all whites this" or "all blacks that." Our
neighborhood was mostly Italian, but that didn't matter. In a lot of ways,
we had forged relationships. We needed each other. Often we depended on each
other, and in those situations, you learn to judge people by something other
than the color of their skin.


My father lived to be 104. He had a marvelous ride to age 100. He was never
sick, his mind stayed sharp, and when whole classes of kids would come from
the school to visit with him, he'd take great delight in sharing stories.
Mom also made it to 100 but she had to come up the rough side of the
mountain. At 90, she was felled by a stroke. "She'll be dead in two weeks,"
a doctor said. He suggested no therapy, no rehabilitation. Mom was strong,
though; she did not die. But the last 10 years of her life she spent in bed,
mostly paralyzed.


It wasn't just my parents who lived long lives. A block over, Mrs. Nipson
made it to 100 years of age, too. Her son, Herbert, was a journalist. For
many years he was editor of Ebony magazine. And up the street from us,
Dominic Rodi lived to 97. Next door, Alex Vezza reached 96. Annie Adams, who
lived down the block, made 90, too. As did Jim Aveni's father across the
street. What the group of them had in common was hard work, not race. All of
them ate well. And the air and the water in the mountains then was very
good.


On the Sunday of my departure for my new job at the Intelligencer-Journal in
Lancaster, our whole family gathered at the kitchen table for a farewell
breakfast. At our house, nobody missed Sunday breakfast. On that one day you
got up and made it to the table. At weekday meals my father said the
blessing. On Sunday mornings, Mom led us in a family prayer. She was
eloquent. She remembered everything and everyone. And on my last day in the
house where I was born and raised, my mother put me at the center of her
prayer. "Keep him safe," she asked. "Be with him. Keep him in the center of
Thy will."


My father shook my hand and we hugged. Mom pressed some money into my hand.
"Be sure and call us as soon as you get there," she said. Mom kissed my
cheek, and it was time to go.


As I climbed into my car, I took a last look around, not appreciating how
cloistered life for me had been. For on that very day, in the South that my
parents had fled, black students younger than I were initiating the
dangerous demonstrations known as sit-ins.. The rising winds of change would
soon engulf America. Although I did not know it, already I was being swept
toward the heart of the storm

 




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The Caldwell Journals




4. The Minor Leagues

I had a little more than three years at the Lancaster Intelligencer-Journal, but they were some of the best of times. I fell in love with the game of golf. I traded my old Ford for a MG-TD, a British sports car. A perfect day was getting on the golf course while the greens were still wet with dew. At night, the magic was in covering the class-A Red Roses baseball team from the press box at Stumpf Field. Later, I wallowed in the camaraderie at Obie Miller's, a reporters' hangout, where we stayed and talked until they shut us off with "Last call!" well after midnight.


Sports were the center of my world. When Jackie Robinson came to Lancaster in 1960 campaigning for Richard Nixon, who was running for president against John Kennedy, I was an easy mark. The first vote I ever cast was for Nixon. It wasn't difficult: in the section of Pennsylvania where I was raised, nearly everybody voted Republican, including my father.


Nothing on the newspaper beat writing about sports. We covered games. We could tell stories that had real endings. People gravitated to us. We became known around town. Lancaster was a conservative city of about 70,000 located in the heart of Amish country in southeastern Pennsylvania. By 1961, the civil rights movement was poking through even in places like Lancaster, although the city's black population was little more than 5 percent.


When the NAACP led a campaign to desegregate the swimming pool at a local amusement park, association members came to recruit me. "It's important that we have people like you with us," they told me. "You work for the newspaper." I would not do it. "I don't swim," I explained, missing the point entirely.
The NAACP could not persuade me to budge from my position. But it did not end there. When I went down to "the ward," the black section of town, and climbed into the barber's chair, the first thing said was, "I hear you wouldn't have any part of that demonstration the NAACP had out at Rocky Springs."


In a barbershop, nothing is private, and others jumped into the conversation. They got on me good. The NAACP called again. My response was the same. Then, one evening while I was on my way to work, a number of blacks were picketing a department store directly across from the newspaper office. The signs they held demanded jobs. I stopped for a moment to watch. Then, for reasons I cannot explain, something moved me to join the demonstration. If anyone in the newsroom noticed, it was never mentioned.


While I loved my work in Lancaster, the urge to move up was always with me. I felt like a baseball player toiling in the minor leagues. Your mind is on getting to the majors almost all the time. And that's what I wanted. I interviewed for a sportswriting position at the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, the state capital. The sports editor, a widely known and respected figure, offered me the job. "I always get the person I want, and I want you," he said. He was enthusiastic and promised to call and give me a starting date. Thrilled beyond words, I returned to Lancaster and handed the editor my resignation. My colleagues threw a good-bye party for me. The days went by, then weeks, and I never heard another word from Harrisburg. Nothing; not ever. I was devastated. "You can take your resignation back," the editor said, softening the blow. It had to be race that blocked my path, I told myself. I was so certain of it that I vowed not to apply for another job. I believed that no paper would hire a sportswriter who was black.


For me, that conclusion meant that Lancaster was the end of the line. I
could go no further. I went to the editor and asked to be transferred to
news. "A good move," he told me. If I was to finish my career at the
Intelligencer-Journal, it was better to enjoy more money and status as a cityside reporter. And that was not a horrible prospect. There were a
lot of classy, talented people on the staff. But just as I was lowering
my sights, a most incredible thing happened.


Robert Pfannebecker, a friend and a prominent lawyer in Lancaster,
invited me to a party. "There's this guy I want you to meet," he said.
He told me that the fellow was a reporter at The Gazette and Daily in York, a town about 25 miles away. I assumed he was white. When I arrived at the party I spied this black fellow mingling in the crowd. "Probably a lawyer," I thought. I was as wrong as I could be. He was Bob Maynard. Until that moment, I had never met another newspaperman who was black like me. We plunged into conversation. Maynard told me that he was in
line to become the city editor of his newspaper. I couldn't believe it;
the city editor runs the newspaper. I was electrified. We talked of New
York, his hometown; of the newspapers we liked; and of reaching the top.
Maynard was so confident. He believed everything was possible. The two
of us had the same dream. We agreed to meet again the very next weekend.
But that night when I left the party, I knew I could go higher. I was
sure of it.

 








 


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5. The Kid from Brooklyn

Bob Maynard came up another side of the mountain. He was a city boy. His parents were immigrants from the West Indies. They came to the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn back when the community had so much mix that, out of necessity, his mother spoke Yiddish and his father, who operated a moving and storage business, became fluent in Italian. Bob took to writing while he was still a kid in short pants. And when he was just 16, he struck out on his own.


When Bob left home, there was no tearful parting with parents and siblings. He ran away. It takes something extremely powerful to drive a kid out of the house at such an early age.


Religion was at the core of the dilemma. Bob was raised in a home where religion ruled. His parents belonged to a strict fundamentalist sect known as the Plymouth Brethren. His father was a leader in the faith and so much a believer that he made every restrictive tenet a law for his six children. Bob, the youngest, could participate in virtually none of the activities that teenagers find important. Radio, television and movies were banned. He couldn't go to parties or dances. He wasn't even allowed friendships outside the religious circle.


But while his father demanded total obedience to the rules of the Brethren, he also drummed into Bob the importance of developing the skills his son would need to effectively challenge nearly everything a person might encounter. Around the dinner table every night each child had to deliver a report on what happened in his or her world that day. Often those reports would turn into intense debates. The elder Maynard used them to measure the oratorical progress of his children. That's when Bob learned to assemble information and to shape and deliver an argument, right down to the decisive stroke, the coup de grace.


Even then, Bob was an extraordinary student, and as his father demanded, he took to questioning everything that came before him. Eventually, as it was bound to happen, Bob dared to question the family's religion. But in this household of healthy skepticism, religion was the one doctrine not to be questioned. Bob found the prohibition unacceptable, and it became the cornerstone in a conflict that father and son could not resolve.


Bob didn't leave home empty handed. He had intelligence, skills and a plan. In rebellion against the rigid rules of his home, he sought as drastically different an environment as possible. He went straight to Greenwich Village. And in 1957, the curious, restless, determined kid from Brooklyn found his bohemia.


The Village then was easily the most intellectually exciting and sensuous place in New York. On social and cultural levels it was where blacks interacted with whites and gays mixed with straights, and where music, art, literature and politics were all freely debated in coffeehouses and cafes day and night. Bob brought with him to the Village the good things he had been taught – the tools to explore, examine, read and learn. He found an apartment in a tenement famous as the onetime home of the legendary musician Charlie Parker. When James Baldwin returned from Paris with a new book, he and Bob met and became friends.


In that heady environment, Bob Maynard held his own. And he did not lose sight of his dream: to become a journalist on a daily newspaper. In the late 1950s, New York was a mecca for newspaper journalism. On any given day, a newsstand had a dozen papers available. Even though almost all of them were closed to people of color, Bob began casting about for a job. He would not allow the barrier of race to block his way. Instead, he became a freelance reporter for two weekly papers, the Brooklyn Heights Press and the black-owned New York Age. He wrote about segregation in the New York City schools. He wrote about police brutality. He would discuss with the likes of Baldwin the problem of race in America and loneliness of the black writer.


Bob refused to accept that he could not express his talent on a daily newspaper. He laid siege to the New York Post. He befriended Post columnist Murray Kempton, who admired his determination. He took other jobs to support himself, but journalism remained his goal. He sent out hundreds of resumes, using the clips of his stories published in the weeklies.


After numerous rejections, Bob connected in 1961. In his column years later, he would tell the story. "Not too long after my 20th birthday, I found myself in the electrifying atmosphere of the newsroom of the York (Pa.) Gazette. Jim Higgins (the editor) read one article I'd written, decided I had 'a fair amount of promise' and put me to work covering the police beat."


He was on his way.

 








 


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