Maynard Eaton, the Man, the Myth, the Legend, Laid to Rest in A Robust Memorial Service

H. Michael Harvey, JD
7 min readJun 18, 2023

At Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church

Maynard Eaton, a life lived fully, as evidenced by his signature smile. File Photo

Back in the days when Jim Crow and de facto segregation ruled the land, a baby named Maynard Eaton was born. He grew into manhood reading newspapers on his morning paper route. He played football and baseball. He was affectionately known by the neighborhood kids of Orange, New Jersey, as “Jelly.”

This speck of life, born in the middle of the 20th century, grew into a man with a broad infectious smile. He spoke with a rustic baritone voice, and although he did not wear a cane and derby hat, he was an impeccable dresser, an undisputed legend in his own time.

Maynard Eaton was the epitome of a “Man in Full,” the quintessential “every man.” He represented the perfect example of human existence in all its fragilities. While Eaton did not wear his religion on his sleeves, he kept in close contact with the leading pastors of Atlanta, talking with them daily. He could pick up the telephone and get Rev. Darryl Winston, Rev. Jasper Williams, or Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley on the phone. They talked to Eaton about their projects, hopes, and dreams for a better Atlanta and the world while fulfilling Eaton’s spiritual needs.

Eaton, like this writer, and others, failed often. Each time he had a setback, he picked himself up, flashed his broad smile, and returned to the fray. He was a good journalist, an excellent storyteller, and a master at framing an interview for the camera.

Maynard Eaton and Harold Michael Harvey comparing notes August 18, 2018, before a news conference by Rev. Jasper Williams who had come under fire for his candid eulogy for Aretha Franklin. Photo by Cascade Publishing House

If you had ought with Eaton, it didn’t last long; it’s something about his smile, that bellowing laughter. It would pull you into the spirit of his heart. His heart was for his people, dismantling Jim Crow, and de facto segregation. Eaton wanted to obtain a journalism degree from Columbia University to prepare himself for his heart’s work, but Columbia did not offer a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Columbia prefers their journalism majors to enter their master’s program with another discipline under their belt.

Disappointed he had failed at enrolling into Columbia, Eaton picked himself up and…

--

--

H. Michael Harvey, JD

Harvey is Living Now Book Awards 2020 Bronze Medalist for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. Available at haroldmichaelharvey.com