February 25, 2016

Jack Slater – early diversity in Kaiser Permanente communications

Reporter 1968-11
Jack Slater, KP Reporter, November, 1968

Last year Kaiser Permanente celebrated the 70th anniversary of opening our health plan to the public. And Ebony, the influential pictorial news magazine celebrating African-American life and culture, also turned 70 years old last year. This Black History month we celebrate one of Ebony’s writers (later an associate editor), a talented young man who got his professional start as editor of two Kaiser Permanente publications.

The November, 1968, issue of the  KP Reporter carried this announcement:

Jack Slater has joined the Northern California Region’s Public Relations department in Oakland where, in addition to other duties, he will edit the publications Planning for Health and the K-P Reporter.

Mr. Slater was formerly associated with Addison-Wesley Publishing Company as a copy editor of textbooks. Prior that affiliation, he served on the staff of the Philadelphia Board of Education as a curriculum editor.

A 1958 graduate in journalism, Mr. Slater received his degree from Temple University in Philadelphia.

Mr. Slater was only at Kaiser Permanente a year before moving on to a newly created position in the Chancellor's office at the University of California at Berkeley. By 1971 he was an editor of the Journal of Educational Change at UC Berkeley.

Slater cancer- det
Jack Slater article in Ebony, November, 1979

Within a couple of years Mr. Slater was writing for the influential African-American magazines Ebony and Jet. Some of his first Ebony articles were subjects close to home. “The Guard Changes in Berkeley” covered the radical electoral victories where two African Americans were elected to the city council on the April Coalition slate. Another, “Putting Soul into Science: Black nuclear chemist searches for elusive superheavy elements,” profiled UC Berkeley Lawrence Livermore scientist James A. Harris.

Mr. Slater’s Ebony articles also covered important health issues affecting the African-American community, including “ Hypertension: Biggest Killer of Blacks” (June, 1973) and “ The Terrible Rise of Cancer among Blacks” (November, 1979).

During the 1980s and 1990s Mr. Slater also wrote for The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, California, Essence, Emmy, and Rolling Stone. In 1993 he wrote a book on Malcolm X for the Cornerstones of Freedom young adult book series.

Nothing is known of Mr. Slater after the 1990s, but we are proud that such a gifted and passionate writer was part of the Kaiser Permanente communications family.