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Obit: Editor Manie Barron, advocate for African-American books

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Blue_Tires Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-14-11 10:41 AM
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Obit: Editor Manie Barron, advocate for African-American books
NEW YORK, N.Y. Manie Barron, an editor and literary agent who worked on and advocated for African-American books through much of a 23-year publishing career, has died at 55.

Barron died Saturday at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, his widow, Wendalyn R. Nichols, told The Associated Press on Wednesday. He was being treated for lung cancer.

A native of New York's Harlem section and a childhood friend of the late comedian Freddie Prinze, Barron studied acting and accounting at City College of New York and applied both performance and monetary savvy to the publishing industry.

He held numerous positions, from sales at the since-closed Doubleday bookstore to telephone sales at Random House, where he moved into editing. After working as publishing manager at Amistad, an African-American imprint at HarperCollins, Barron was a representative at the William Morris Agency. He then co-founded the Menza-Barron Literary Agency with Claudia Menza.

Authors he worked with included vampire novelist L.A. Banks, Harlem Renaissance historian Sondra Kathryn Wilson and fiction writer Guy Johnson, the son of Maya Angelou. One of his proudest projects was editing Velma Maia Thomas's "Lest We Forget," an interactive history of slavery that sold tens of thousands of copies despite receiving little publicity.

Barron was often one of the few African-Americans, if not the only one, at his workplace and was open about his frustration. "Y'all just don't get it," was a favourite expression about executives who rejected a proposal for an African-American book, according to his widow, whom he met at Random House. During a panel discussion in 2000 about minorities in publishing, Barron likened his status to a collapsible car: constantly being rebuilt.
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