“Know your history!” Through a life dedicated to the research, recording and teaching of African American history, Robert Hayden would impart these three words to his family, friends, colleagues and students to convey with conviction the importance
of this charge. Robert Carter Hayden, Jr., known to most as Bob, entered eternal life on January 23, 2022. Always the teacher, a trait he learned from his mother, he was a passionate and captivating story teller. He never told a story just to tell it,
but always to then hear what you had learned though his words. He leaves behind a legacy as a beacon for the importance and joy of lifelong learning.
Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on August 21, 1937, the son of Robert C. Hayden and Josephine W. Hayden, he was graduate of New Bedford High School in 1955 and attended Boston University, receiving his B.A. degree in 1959 and his master’s degree in
1961. He completed two post-graduate fellowships — one at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and another in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) between 1976 and 1977, and
holds an honorary doctorate degree from Bridgewater State College. Between 1994 and 1995, he was a scholar-in-residence at The New York Public Library Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Between 1961 and 1965, Hayden worked as a middle school teacher. In 1966, Hayden became an editor with Xerox Education Division, serving in that capacity for three years. Instrumental in the founding of the Boston METCO program, he served as executive
director from 1970-1973.
In 1974, he moved to the Education Development Center in Newton, Massachusetts where he directed ethnic heritage studies projects for urban school districts. In 1980, he became the director of MIT’s Secondary Technical Education Project. From 1982 to
1987, he served as an assistant superintendent in the Boston Public School System. Hayden served as president of Boston’s NAACP Branch from 1986-1988 and was honored to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the Branch in 2013. In addition,
Hayden served for five years as the executive director of the Massachusetts Pre-engineering Program, before retiring in 1992.
Hayden is well known for his three pioneering works in the 1970s on the history of African Americans in science, technology and medicine that were widely distributed to schools and libraries across the country. In subsequent years he authored over twenty
publications on African American history and culture.
From 1974 to 1983, he wrote a weekly column, “Boston’s Black History”, for the Banner. He was a contributing writer for the Dictionary of American Negro Biography (1982) the Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (1995), and American
National Biography (1999).
Hayden held positions as a senior lecturer at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, Northeastern University, Boston College and Lesley University, spanning from 1978 to 2006.
A resident of the Island of Martha’s Vineyard, he served on the Oak Bluffs Historical Commission from 1998 to 2000, while leading African American history tours of the Island. He was the national secretary of the Association for the Study of African
American Life and History (ASALH) and the founding president of the Martha’s Vineyard Branch of the ASALH.
In the later years of his life, he enjoyed playing golf every day he possibly could, anything and everything that had to do with his grandchildren, especially taking them fishing and spending days at the beach, enjoying Biscuits biscuits and gravy and
his favorite restaurant Deons, cooking and painstakingly combing the shores of his beloved Martha’s Vineyard for the perfect rocks to create his “beach stone art.”...
A consummate storyteller, Robert C. Hayden wanted people to learn about everyone who contributed to Black history, not just the celebrated figures.
“It's nice to read biographies and look for role models, but I think we have to go beyond that elite list of great Black men and women,” he told the Globe in 1992.
“We have to look below the surface and examine the contributions of ordinary individuals,” he said. “I think we could learn a lot by studying what the masses of Black Americans did and how they worked together to change their condition.”
A prolific author and historian whose books include the lauded “African-Americans in Boston: More Than 350 Years,” Mr. Hayden died Jan. 23 in Martha's Vineyard Hospital. He was 84, lived in Oak Bluffs, and was diagnosed with Lewy body disease several
In a 1992 editorial praising “African-Americans in Boston,” the Globe said Mr. Hayden's book “should be required reading,” and applauded his celebration of “the rich history of survival and leadership that has existed in this city for centuries.
What I posted in 2017:
Not to be confused with the U.S. Poet Laureate (1913-1980).
He won the outstanding book award from National Science Teachers-Association and Children's Book Council in 1976 for "Nine Black American Doctors."
Why You Are You: The Science of Heredity, Sex, and Development, American Education Publications, 1968.
Black in America: Episodes in U.S. History, Xerox Education Publications, 1969.
Seven Black American Scientists, Addison-Wesley, 1970.
Eight Black American Inventors, Addison-Wesley, 1972.
(With Jacqueline Harris) Nine Black American Doctors, Addison-Wesley, 1976.
Faith, Culture, and Leadership: A History of the Black Church in Boston (booklet), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (Boston), 1983.
Faith, Culture, and Leadership: A History of the Black Church in Boston, Boston Branch NAACP, 1983.
The African Meeting House in Boston: A Celebration of History, Museum of Afro American History, 1987.
Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965: A Guide to the Series, Blackside, Inc., 1987.
Singing for All People: Roland Hayes (biography), Corey & Lucas, 1989.
African-Americans in Boston: More Than 350 Years, foreword by Joyce Ferriabough, Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston, 1991.
9 African-American Inventors, wenty-First Century Books, 1992.
7 African-American Scientists (Rev. and expanded ed.), Twenty-First Century Books, 1992.
11 African-American Doctors (Rev. and expanded ed.), Twenty-First Century Books, 1992.
(Co-Author) A Cultural Guide to African-American Heritage in New England, Cline Transportation Service, 1992.
African-Americans and Cape Verdean-Americans in New Bedford: A History of Community and Achievement, Select Publications, 1993.
A Historical Overview of Poverty Among Blacks in Boston, 1850-1990, University of Massachusetts at Boston, 1994.
Aging With Independence and Dignity: A History of Central Boston Elder Services, Inc., 1974-1994, Central Boston Elder Services, 1994.
Multicultural Contributions to Science, D.C. Heath and Company, 1996.
(Editor, with Katherine Watson Frederick) Richard M. Owens, I Wanted to Preach: Richard McLaughlin Owens (autobiography), Select Publications, 1996.
(With Karen E. Hayden) African-Americans On Martha's Vineyard & Nantucket: A History of People, Places and Events, Select Publications, 1999.
(Editor, with Ann Withorn and Jen Douglas) Changing Lives, Changing Communities: Oral Histories from Action for Boston Community Development, Action for Boston Community Development, 2002.