Author and newspaper editor Wayne Dawkins was born on September 19, 1955, in New York, New York to Iris and Edward H. Dawkins. Both his mother and father were of Jamaican and Panamanian descent. Dawkins became interested in journalism at an early age when his mother sent him to the neighborhood candy store to buy the daily newspaper. His parents also encouraged his reading habit, buying for him and his siblings a set of encyclopedias when he was still very young. As a child, Dawkins attended Benjamin Banneker Elementary in Brooklyn, New York and P.S. 176. He graduated from New Utrecht High School in 1973, located in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.
In 1977, Dawkins graduated from Long Island University with his B.A. degree in journalism where he was a member of the junior varsity basketball team. After receiving advice from a mentor, he decided to further his education and enroll at Columbia University's School of Journalism where he received a substantial scholarship. Dawkins graduated with his M.S. degree in journalism in 1980 and was hired by the Daily Argus as a reporter where he met his first wife, Joyce Ingram. Afterwards, he moved to New Jersey where he worked for the Courier Post. In 1981, Dawkins attended his first National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) conference, and several years later he was appointed as regional director. While serving in that position, he witnessed the organization’s growth and was instrumental in the establishment of several of its chapters. After graduating from the School of Journalism, he founded the alumni newsletter Black Alumni Network where he first wrote about the history of the NABJ in 1990. Sparking his interest, the book Black Journalists: The NABJ Story soon followed and was published under Dawkins’s own press company, August Press.
Dawkins has worked as an editor for several newspapers, including the Daily Press in Hampton, Virginia. Deciding to share his skills as a reporter and editor, Dawkins began teaching journalism at Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications at Hampton University, in Hampton, Virginia. He has received many awards and honors, including the distinguished Alumni Association Award from Columbia School of Journalism. In 2004, Dawkins was awarded the prestigious Columbia University Alumni Federation Medal, which is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an alumnus of Columbia University.
Wayne Dawkins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 4, 2005.