Coping with Grief
We would like to offer our sincere support to anyone coping with grief. Enter your email below for our complimentary daily grief messages. Messages run for up to one year and you can stop at any time. Your email will not be used for any other purpose.
“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 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 Bay State Banner newspaper in Boston. 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 on 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”.
Father of Robert C. Hayden III (now reunited), Dr. Deborah Hayden, Kevin Hayden, Esq. and Karen McAdams, he is survived by his brother William Hayden, five grandchildren; James Hayden Hall, Ella & Sebastian McAdams, Jordan & Carson Hayden, son-in-laws; Glenn Camilien and Jeffery McAdams and daughter-in-law; Michelle Hayden. He also leaves behind a loving community of neighbors, fellow Islanders and many more who called him friend, mentor and teacher.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Robert's name to
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Please select Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in the drop down section "Donation Direction" at the bottom of the donation page.