In Memory of John Maxwell

In Memory of John Maxwell


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Maxwell won deep admiration among his peers and his compatriots at large for his fearless journalism,

in which he faced down prime ministers, was fired more than any other reporter and ended

 up preparing future journalists at the University of the West Indies, Mona in St Andrew.



Book by John Maxwell

How to Make Our Own News: A Primer for Environmentalist and Journalists

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In Memory of John Maxwell

By Randall Robinson, et al


11 December 2010

Death awaits us all, of course.Yet there are some deaths that rip from the earth that which is clear, that which is visionary, that which is moral, that which is true. John Maxwell is one of those whose rare human beings, one of those rare souls, and one of those rare minds whose death leaves us naked. Bare. Smaller. He is one of those whose death makes the world seem more jumbled than it was before because no matter how complex the challenge, no matter how great the odds, no matter how mighty the foe, on issues of right and wrong, justice and injustice, truth and its opposite, John Maxwell never tired.

Or, at least, he never withheld from the battle the power of his extraordinarily impressive mind and his clear, transcendent soul. And so, while he lived, there was at least the hope that his insights, warnings, and urgings would be heeded by those with the power determine the path of nations—and indeed the world.

John’s life put into meaningful action the most sacred precepts of all great religions, and indeed encapsulated the old Haitian adage that “every human being is a human being.” John has died. And the Caribbean is very much the poorer for it. I mourn the loss of John, and extend sincere condolences to his wife, his children, his relatives, and all who knew and loved him.—Randall Robinson

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John Maxwell—a vanguard of democracy has left us

Prime Minister Bruce Golding has lamented the passing yesterday (Dec 10) of one of the Caribbean region’s brightest and most outspoken journalists, John Maxwell. Describing him as one of the vanguards of democracy, Prime Minister Golding said that Maxwell, in his over 50 years as a journalist, gained the utmost respect for his fearless and outspoken views and commentaries.’He lived life passionately and took that same approach and dedication to his profession as a journalist who managed to exercise his craft in every area of the media leaving his indelible mark. His death is a tremendous loss to his profession’, Mr Golding said.

 The Prime Minister has extended condolence to his wife, Dr Marjan deBruin, his children, members of his family, his colleagues in the media and friends. John Maxwell died after a long battle with lung cancer.—Office of PM

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PNP saddened by John Maxwell’s passing

Opposition leader Portia Simpson Miller has joined the long list of persons extending condolences at the passing of John Maxwell. According to Simpson Miller, for many Jamaicans, Maxwell symbolized the consummate advocate.She described him as fearless in expressing his opinions. The PNP President also portrayed Maxwell’s wit as razor sharp and his research acumen unquestionable. She said the collection of articles, papers and opinions he has written throughout his career when collated would certainly track and document Jamaica’s Social, Environmental, Political and Economic Development over the last fifty years.Maxwell died after a long battle with lung cancer.

Maxwell was a columnist with the Jamaica Observer and was also a lecturer at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication, University of the West Indies, Mona.—Go-Jamaica

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Journalists remember ‘fearless warrior’ John Maxwell

The Press Association of Jamaica [PAJ] today paid tribute to John Maxwell who died yesterday after a long battle with illness and more than 50 years working in journalism, the last two decades of which were spent advocating for environmental protection. In a statement this morning, PAJ president Jenni Campbell hailed Maxwell as “one of the longest shining beacons of the profession, a strident defender of truth, a fearless warrior for justice and a stalwart of the profession.” In his tribute, past president Desmond Richards, remembered him as an “indefatigable fighter for press freedom and the rights of the small man to access to the media. He is irreplaceable.” Claude Robinson, who was John’s co-worker at the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation during the 1960s and 1970s, said that he “wore his journalism on his sleeve. He was brave, courageous and inquisitive.”

 Robinson recalled Maxwell as a “believer in the developmental use of radio to empower voiceless people”, noting that he pioneered radio talk show with Public Eye, where he launched a campaign on behalf of domestic helpers, and ultimately influenced the introduction of the national minimum wage policy.

Retired Gleaner Editor-in-Chief Ken Allen, who along with John were among the first set of trainee journalists employed by The Gleaner in the early 1950s, remembers him as a “brilliant writer and a lively, bright fellow who was not afraid of arguing or challenging other points of view.” The PAJ said that it mourned Maxwell’s death and encouraged his family to take comfort in his journalistic legacy—JamaicaObserver

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John Maxwell had a special relationship with Haiti. At Ezili’s HLLN he was our living library, an energy so knowledgeable and immersed in the life and history of African people’s liberation journey the world over, especially the Haiti struggle; an energy so connected to the Ancestors’ goodness, courage and force, he was them in the flesh to us. Not since Boukman in 1791 has Haiti owned such a warrior from Jamaica. He was ours. John Maxwell used his pen to speak and educate all of us about struggles for peace and justice in every part of the world. Certainly, HLLN and Haiti had no greater an international collaborator, or more valuable a resource than the mind and soul of John Maxwell. On this global terrain, we pay John Maxwell tribute as the Ezili Network continues to step up and face the demented minds vying for the souls of Black folks in Haiti just like John always did. It was only when he got so sick he could write no more that he stopped. John was 76 years old when he transitioned, but for weeks before, I’d been thinking “no way on earth would John not be writing something in the Jamaican Observer about the UN importing cholera to Haiti if he was alright.”

No way! We missed his voice, we surely did, even before Papa Legba opened the door at the Great Crossroads between the visible and invisible, between perishable flesh and eternal spirit to usher the irreducible essence of our John to join the line of African ancestors going back to the beginning of time.

He watches over us now, and no matter how somber our days are now in UN-occupied Haiti, we know for sure, death is not the worst thing that can happen to a human being, a life living on your knees as a mass-produced Zombi is. John Maxwell’s everlasting light and life example shall guides us so we remain conscious, no matter the graven images the world’s powerful hoarders push the poor and less powerful toendure. Ginen poze.—Ezili Dantò

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John Maxwell is dead—The gladiator-journalist fought to his last breath—By Desmond Allen, Executive Editor Jamaica Observer—John William Maxwell, the gladiator-journalist whose biting pen helped to shape a generation of news men and women, took his last breath at 5:15 pm yesterday, aged 76. Maxwell, regarded as the journalist’s journalist, suffered respiratory failure after slugging it out with lung cancer which he battled with customary courage since 2008.”He died very peacefully at home,” his Netherlands-born wife of 20 years, Dr Marjan deBruin, said last night.  “John died the way he would have wanted, not lingering on given his weak condition,” she told the Observer.   Maxwell who spoke openly about his smoking and drinking, once describing himself as a member of a group of university “thinkers and drinkers”, had given up both, saying, “I had done enough for the industry.” But apparently too late. He fought the cancer vigorously, including two visits for treatment in the Netherlands. On his second visit, he was told by doctors they could do no more to fight the cancer, and Maxwell chose to return home to end his days in his beloved Jamaica.

As a demonstration of the love and admiration he enjoyed, Maxwell was able to raise US$80,000 in less than a week to meet the cost of an air ambulance to bring him home as he could not travel by commercial airline.   Gordon “Butch” Stewart, who was among those who helped to bring Maxwell back to Jamaica and was a long-time admirer of the journalistic iconoclast, said last night the news had left him in shock. “The passing of John Maxwell represents an event of seismic proportions in the journalism profession. I have known John a long time. He worked alongside my father who was chief engineer at the then Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation  (JBC) where the two were inseparable,” said Stewart.   Maxwell was born in a house at Duncans, Trelawny, which slaves a century or so before had lovingly built for the Baptist missionary William Knibb, after the anti-abolitionist planters had burnt his home to the ground. He was born into a family of politicians. His father was a Baptist pastor and politician; and two maternal uncles were (JLP) Members of the House of Representatives. His mother, the former Zelma Thelwell, was one of Jamaica’s first fashion designers.   Maxwell won deep admiration among his peers and his compatriots at large for his fearless journalism, in which he faced down prime ministers, was fired more than any other reporter and ended up preparing future journalists at the University of the West Indies, Mona in St Andrew. His journalism odyssey, which began at the Gleaner in 1959 after he left Jamaica College and Calabar, meanders through an unending series of colourful, often controversial anecdotes, pregnant with historical significance.   “Trenchant, fearful of no one, fully armed and suited up to do battle at the drop of a hat, Maxwell is a type of gladiator wielding a merciless pen,” was how one interviewer described him. Eli Matalon, the former PNP security minister, clearly driven to distraction, once described Maxwell as “an over-educated Rasta”. After The Gleaner, he edited the Public Opinion newspaper which was owned by the People’s National Party (PNP) but secured his place in the annals of journalism when he started and hosted the Public Eye talk show on JBC radio.   An often exasperating host, Maxwell opened his microphone to thousands of powerless domestic helpers—many slaving away in shameless households—by inspiring a National Minimum Wage. In later years, he built up an even greater following with his weekly column, Common Sense in the Sunday Observer, which he used to wage a long, often biting campaign for the recognition of Haiti.   Maxwell is survived by his wife and two children, Matthew, director of a small corporate communication company, and Katy, a film animator, both from a previous marriage.—JamaicaObserver

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John Maxwell: A gladiator wielding a merciless pen

By Desmond Allen

John Maxwell Table

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Media and Violence in Jamaica

Edited by Marjan deBruin and  Claude Robinson  

The review of research on the impact of media and violence on children and juveniles is particularly noteworthy and supports the intuitive understanding of the influence the media must exert in the development of what Garbarino (1995) calls the social maps children construct and which guide their behaviour. Many children today cannot sit still for ten minutes without an I Pod, an MP3 player, a Game Boy or a TV movie and the explicit portrayals of murder, person-on-person violence and violent sex acts in films, television, video games, and the lyrics of popular songs convey images of violence as being part of the normal pattern of interpersonal interaction and relationships.

When violent events and known violent offenders are given prominence in the print media and interviewed on radio as well as television, mixed messages are sent to children who now see violent behaviour as a means of capturing public attention and gaining prominence. The de-sensitization of young people to violence and its effects is an important outcome of such exposure, and it can irreparably damage their psychological and emotional development.—Emerita Professor Elsa Leo-Rhynie, Former Principal, The University of the West Indies

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  


#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. “Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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12 December 2010 




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