Atlanta journalist and communications professional Maynard Eaton died Tuesday. (Hampton University)

Maynard Eaton, a pioneer for Black journalists who won eight Emmy Awards during his decades-long career that included covering Atlanta City Hall and the Georgia General Assembly, has died at age 73.

Eaton died late Tuesday, May 24, from lung cancer, as first reported by The Atlanta Voice. Eaton “left a legacy of impactful reporting and social change” that included being one of the first Black journalists on primetime television, according to the newspaper.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens praised Eaton and his dedication “to ensure Black voices were heard, and that Black communities had the same access to information as others.”

“For decades, Maynard Eaton was synonymous with journalism in Atlanta — covering Atlanta City Hall and the Gold Dome,” Dickens said in a written statement.

“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,” Dickens said.

“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,” Dickens said. “My thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”

Eaton began his career in 1970 as the first Black news anchor at WVEC-TV in Hampton, Virginia, after graduating from Hampton Institute’s Mass Media Arts Program, according to The Atlanta Voice.

In 2022, Eaton “came full-circle” with his appointment as Endowed Professor of Journalism at Hampton University, the newspaper reported.

“Eaton’s most enduring legacy will be the plethora of journalists he has trained and mentored during tenures as a professor at both Clark-Atlanta and Hampton universities,” The Atlanta Voice said.

Eaton graduated from Columbia University with a master’s degree in broadcast journalism in 1972. In 1978, he started working as a political reporter at WXIA- TV/11 Alive News, where he worked until 1986.

He won eight Emmy Awards for television news reporting and writing while at WXIA, WPLG-TV in Miami and WVEC-TV in Hampton. He was also honored for his work as a political commentator for WTLK-TV and WATL-TV in Atlanta; a producer/reporter for World News Monitor; as Southeast field producer for USA Today and BET television; and writer/talent for Ebony Journal and Prime Time.

Eaton also won two Atlanta Association of Black Journalist awards, including the Journalist of the Year award in 1985 from the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists (AABJ), and several honors from the National Association of Black Journalists.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.