The world will greatly miss the iconic presence of Mrs. Marsha Rose Joyner, a member of the family that founded the Afro-American Newspaper and which over the past 129 years has produced numerous global human rights activists.
On April 10, Joyner, who was affectionately known as “Honey Bunn” by her family and friends, passed away at the age of eighty-two in Honolulu, Hawaii where she resided with her husband, Kenneth.
Joyner, whose husband retired in 1974 as a Senior United States Naval Chief, is the daughter of the late Elizabeth Oliver, nationally acclaimed journalist and long-time veteran reporter for the AFRO-American Newspapers.
Joyner was the surviving granddaughter of Rose Oliver, the eldest daughter of John H. Murphy, Sr, the founder of the AFRO-American Newspaper. Joyner is also a direct descendent of John Oliver, a former slave who became an attorney that served on a grand jury that formally indicted Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, for treason.
The senior surviving member of seven generations of the Murphy-Oliver families, Joyner was one of five young African American girls who integrated Baltimore’s Western Senior High School, a public school for girls, shortly after the 1954 United States Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education case ruling that segregation in public education was unconstitutional.
The mother of one daughter, three sons, and grandparent of a host of grand-children, Joyner once told a writer that she had been “born into a family of causes,” and that a primary purpose in her life was to bring about change, and to create a world in which all human-beings were treated justly and equally.
Such dedication was reflected in her commitment and involvement with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) when that organization was an active warrior in the battles for improving civil and human rights for racial minorities.
A long-time resident of the island state, Mrs. Joyner connected firmly with the rich spectrum of people in Hawaii who joyfully embraced her.
In addition to knowing and working with many American Civil Rights legends, she knew leaders from throughout the world, having become an active participant in the activities of the United Nations.
In Hawaii, Joyner worked closely with local and state government officials. On her radio program, which over the past year was also being communicated over Zoom, Joyner’s focus on important issues reached audiences that spanned the globe.
She served as the Program Director of The Hawaii Peace Center, and for the past twenty-seven years she was the Executive Producer of the Hawaiian National Communications Corporation.
Joyner was respected and admired by members of the Pacific-Asian Indigenous Community and was known to leaders of governments throughout Asia.
A former president of Dr. Martin Luther King Coalition-Hawaii, she worked with members of the community and elected officials to make Dr. King’s birthday a public holiday in Hawaii.
In recent years, Joyner was one of the leaders of a national movement that is petitioning the Department of Navy to have the Navy Cross, previously awarded to Pearl Harbor naval hero Dorie Miller, upgraded to the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award.
Joyner is survived by her husband of thirty-two years, KennethJoyner; one daughter, Marilyn Carter of Oahu, Honolulu, Hawaii; three sons, Elmer German of Honolulu, Hawaii, Christopher German of California and Gregory German also of California. Mrs. Joyner’s grandchildren include Shaina Carter, Ashley Amps, twins Andrew and Aaron Amps, Siena German, and Kai German. She is also survived by two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service to honor the life and work of Joyner will be held on May 18th at the Ballard Mortuary in Oahu, Honolulu, Hawaii. Additional information will be communicated for viewing the services on Zoom.