Used by permission from the Arizona Historical Society
Born in Waterbury, Connecticut on November 23, 1905, Ethel Reed Maynard moved to Arizona in 1946. She had trained as a Registered Nurse in the Bellevue and Allied Hospital in Harlem and then worked for 18 years as a public health nurse in the city.
She married Dr. Aubre de L. Maynard and had one daughter. After moving to Tucson in 1946, she began a job as school nurse that lasted until 1971. She also became a community activist, serving as vice president of the civil rights organization, Tucson Council for Civic Unity, which like its Phoenix counterpart, the Greater Phoenix Council for Civic Unity, worked for desegregation of schools, public facilities and employment. After civil rights measures became law, Maynard served as a member of the 1968 Tucson Commission on Human Relations that monitored integration of public facilities, employment, and housing.
Maynard was founder and Executive Board member of the Safford Area Council of the Tucson Committee for Economic Opportunity that helped impoverished people. She also served on the Executive Board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Board of Planned Parenthood. Her years as a public health nurse in Harlem led her to push for improved access to birth control and revisions in abortion laws. In addition, Maynard became active in the Democratic Party as precinct committee woman, attending the Democratic National Convention in 1956.
Ethel Maynard was the first African American woman elected to the Arizona state legislature, serving from 1966 to 1972. Her committee assignments included Public Health and Welfare, Judiciary, and the Suffrage and Elections Committees. Working with another legislator, Etta Mae Hutchenson, Maynard wrote the bill for state-supported kindergarten that passed in 1971. Welfare reform, including the rehabilitation and employment of heads of families, were also important to her. Maynard became known for her ability to offer a different and thoughtful perspective on chronic problems. Early on she opposed neighborhood disruption due to freeways and advocated automobile emissions inspections. She also supported giving 18-year-olds the right to vote.
During racial disturbances in Tucson in 1967, Maynard challenged demonstrators to replace the slogan, “Burn, baby, burn!” with “Build, baby, build!” She emphasized pride in being black and strived to improve conditions through her work in the Legislature and involvement in civil rights organizations. She died in 1980 at the age of 76 after a lengthy bout with heart disease.