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Mary Ellen Butler

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Information about Mary Ellen Butler

Profile image of Mary Ellen Butler

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Newspaper Editor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Fruit
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Yosemite National Park
Favorite Quote:
Keep On Keepin' On.

Birthplace

Born:
5/8/1940
Birth Location:
Berkeley, California

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Newspaper Editor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Fruit
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Yosemite National Park
Favorite Quote:
Keep On Keepin' On.

Birthplace

Born:
5/8/1940
Birth Location:
Berkeley
See how Mary Ellen Butler is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Journalist Mary Ellen Butler was born Mary Ellen Rose on May 8, 1940 in Berkeley, California. Her mother, Virginia Craft Rose, is the niece of Harvard University graduate and editor/activist Monroe Trotter. Her grandfather was Henry Kempton Craft (d.1974), an early black YMCA executive and a direct descendent of William and Ellen Craft, famous for their daring escape from slavery in 1848. Butler’s father, Joshua Richard Rose, headed the Northwest branch of the YMCA in Oakland, California, where she attended Durant Elementary School, Herbert Hoover Junior High School and Oakland Technical High School. Butler, who was mentored by journalism teacher Crystal Murphy, graduated in 1957. She attended the University of California at Berkeley where she earned her B.A. degree in journalism. Butler covered the school’s refusal to let Malcolm X speak for the Daily Californian.

Graduating in 1961, Butler was hired as a writer by Blue Cross of Northern California and then by Bank of America World Headquarters to write business reports. In 1964, Butler joined the Berkeley Daily Gazette as a reporter covering the Free Speech Movement, City Hall, desegregation in the Berkeley public schools, and the Black Panther Party. Butler also taught the history of black journalism at Laney College in Oakland. From 1971 to 1972, she served as reporter and editor of the Berkeley Post. Entering the Congressional Fellowship Program, Butler wrote speeches, press releases and position papers for United States Senator Alan Cranston and Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm in 1972 and 1973. She was a metro and feature reporter for the Washington Star, from 1973 to 1978.

In 1979, Butler returned to Oakland as writer and public information officer for the Oakland Unified School District. In late 1979, she joined the Oakland Tribune as “Lifestyle” editor. There, Butler managed a staff of thirty, producing eight newspaper sections per week including the “Sunday Lifestyle” and “Entertainment” sections. Moving to editorial writer in 1983, Butler wrote daily editorials and managed the political endorsement process. From 1990 to 1994, Butler was named Editorial Page editor. After fifteen years with the Oakland Tribune, she opened Butler Communications.

In 1992, Butler received the Best Editorial Award from the Contra Costa Press Club and first place for editorial writing from the California Newspaper Publishers Association. In 1995, she won first place for her essay “Leadership in a Changing World” from the Center for Creative Leadership. Butler was a member of the National Conference of Editorial Writers and is a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists. She is the author of several books including Oakland Welcomes the World and Prophet of the Parks: The Story of William Penn Mott and edited Black Women Stirring the Waters.

Butler was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 13, 2007.

See how Mary Ellen Butler is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mary Ellen Butler's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mary Ellen Butler lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mary Ellen Butler describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mary Ellen Butler recalls her maternal ancestors, William Craft and Ellen Smith Craft
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mary Ellen Butler describes her maternal ancestor, James Monroe Trotter
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mary Ellen Butler recalls her maternal great uncle
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mary Ellen Butler describes the Woodville Co-operative Farm School in Bryan County, Georgia
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mary Ellen Butler describes how her maternal grandparents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mary Ellen Butler talks about her maternal ancestry
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mary Ellen Butler narrates her family tree
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mary Ellen Butler recalls visiting her maternal grandparents
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mary Ellen Butler talks about her family's naming traditions
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mary Ellen Butler talks about the Harlem YMCA in New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mary Ellen Butler describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mary Ellen Butler describes how her parents met
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mary Ellen Butler recalls her maternal grandfather's start in the YMCA
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Mary Ellen Butler describes her parents' personalities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Mary Ellen Butler describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Mary Ellen Butler describes the demographics of her neighborhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Mary Ellen Butler describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mary Ellen Butler describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mary Ellen Butler recalls her early interest in baseball
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mary Ellen Butler talks about the black leadership in Oakland, California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mary Ellen Butler recalls her early interest in reading
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mary Ellen Butler describes her relationship with her father
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mary Ellen Butler talks about her early interest in journalism
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mary Ellen Butler remembers Herbert Hoover Junior High School in Oakland, California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Mary Ellen Butler describes the alumni of McClymonds High School in Oakland, California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Mary Ellen Butler remembers Oakland Technical High School in Oakland, California
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Mary Ellen Butler remembers her high school journalism teacher
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mary Ellen Butler recalls her journalistic activities in high school
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mary Ellen Butler remembers her early career aspirations
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mary Ellen Butler recalls reading African American newspapers
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mary Ellen Butler talks about California's higher education system
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mary Ellen Butler remembers the University of California, Berkeley
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mary Ellen Butler remembers Malcolm X
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mary Ellen Butler describes the black community at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Mary Ellen Butler describes the Civil Rights Movement in Oakland, California
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Mary Ellen Butler remembers studying abroad in Poland
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mary Ellen Butler talks about the popularity of jazz music in Poland
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mary Ellen Butler recalls the Shrine of the Black Madonna in Poland
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mary Ellen Butler describes her experiences of gender discrimination
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mary Ellen Butler talks about her early work experiences
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Mary Ellen Butler recalls working for the Berkeley Daily Gazette
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Mary Ellen Butler recalls the Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkeley, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Mary Ellen Butler recalls the Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkeley, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Mary Ellen Butler remembers the Black Panther Party
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Mary Ellen Butler talks about influential journalists and literary writers
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Mary Ellen Butler recalls working for the Oakland Post
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Mary Ellen Butler remembers the death of activist George Jackson
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Mary Ellen Butler describes her Congressional Fellowship in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Mary Ellen Butler describes her news articles for the Washington Star
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Mary Ellen Butler remembers author Alex Haley
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Mary Ellen Butler talks about Jim Jones and Harvey Milk
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Mary Ellen Butler remembers Huey P. Newton
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Mary Ellen Butler remembers Robert C. Maynard
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Mary Ellen Butler talks about Gary Webb's investigative journalism
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Mary Butler remembers hip hop artist, MC Hammer
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Mary Ellen Butler describes her freelance writing
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Mary Ellen Butler talks about her favorite news articles
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Mary Ellen Butler describes her books
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Mary Ellen Butler talks about writing her family's biography
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Mary Ellen Butler describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Mary Ellen Butler reflects upon her life and legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Mary Ellen Butler talks about her children
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Mary Ellen Butler describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Mary Ellen Butler narrates her photographs