Cynthia Tucker Haynes

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2017.

A summer spent in Montgomery deepened Cynthia Tucker Haynes’ commitment to the craft that became her lifelong passion: reporting and analyzing the news. Working as a college intern at the now-defunct Alabama Journal newspaper, she reported on a federal trial overseen by the legendary Judge Frank M. Johnson. That was enough to bind her natural curiosity to the world of daily newspaper deadlines.


After graduating from Auburn University in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Haynes went on to a distinguished newspaper career that has been recognized with the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. She worked as a reporter at The Atlanta Journal and The Philadelphia Inquirer before being named associate editorial page editor of The Atlanta Constitution in 1986. She was promoted to the position of editor of the editorial page in 1992, and, in 2001, editorial page editor of the combined Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


Haynes was the first woman and the first African-American to occupy the chair once held by the fabled Ralph McGill. In that capacity, she was responsible for the newspaper’s editorial position on local affairs, such as Atlanta’s quest for the 1996 Olympic Games, as well as national events, such as the election of the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama. 

 

She wrote a twice-weekly column, as well. In 2009, she became a Washington-based political columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she remained for two and a half years.

 

In addition to her newspaper duties, Haynes has been a frequent commentator on radio and television news shows, appearing on PBS, ABC, CNN and MSNBC. She has also taught at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she was a Charlayne Hunter-Gault Writer-in-Residence.


Haynes has won numerous awards and honors, including the University of Alabama’s Clarence Cason Award in 2007. In the 1988-89 academic year, she was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Haynes’ newspaper column was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 and 2006 before winning the honor, the newspaper industry’s most prestigious award, in 2007.


Haynes was nurtured in fertile soil for writers. She is a native of Monroeville, Alabama, the hometown of famed novelist Harper Lee, and a 1972 graduate of Monroe County High School. Her parents, John and Mary Tucker, were educators who encouraged Haynes to work hard, to strive to overcome barriers, and to respect diversity. They also indulged her passion for writing and her innate curiosity. 


In 2014, Haynes married Dr. Johnson Haynes Jr., a professor of medicine at the University of South Alabama, and returned to her home state. She currently resides in Mobile with her husband and daughter, Carly. She is active in civic affairs and has continued to report and analyze current events through a syndicated newspaper column and a blog.