What happened to Murray Maye? Queen Sugar tribute explained

Eve Edwards November 30, 2022
What happened to Murray Maye? Queen Sugar tribute explained
Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for AFI

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Queen Sugar ended with a tribute to Murray Maye, Ava DuVernay’s late “father.”

The Ava DuVernay-created series came to its conclusion on Tuesday, November 29, after seven seasons following the Bordelon siblings.

Inevitably, the finale was tinged with sadness as viewers bid the show goodbye. But emotions ran high as DuVernay rounded off Queen Sugar with a tribute to her late father.

But who was Murray Maye and what happened to him? In light of Ava DuVernay’s tribute, we cast our eye back over his career.

Photo by Robin L Marshall/Getty Images for OWN

Queen Sugar pays tribute to Murray Maye

In the last-ever episode of Queen Sugar, the finale was graced with the dedication to Murray Maye: “For my father, Murray Maye.”

This moved many viewers, who took to social media after the finale to reflect on the tribute.

One Twitter user wrote after seeing the episode: “The words “For my father, Murray Maye” was felt deep in my bones. It isn’t that he didn’t get to see this series; it is that [Ava DuVernay] didn’t get to watch him watch this series. Someone always crosses over before you do something great!”

Who was Murray Maye?

Murray Maye was not the biological father of Ava DuVernay, but her stepfather. Maye was married to Ava DuVernay’s mother, Darlene Sexton, an educator. They raised Ava and her siblings in California. It is reported that Maye was the owner of a carpeting business.

It is unknown what happened to DuVernay’s biological father, Joseph Marcel DuVernay III. However, DuVernay explored her father’s family in her appearance on PBS’ Finding Your Roots.

Murray Maye is reported to have passed away on March 16, 2016. A year prior, Maye had appeared on 60 Minutes in a segment on Ava DuVernay.

DuVernay’s friend and collaborator Oprah Winfrey spoke at Murray Maye’s funeral. “Your father was such a good proud yet humble man. It was my honor to speak his name at his “going home” celebration,” Winfrey tweeted.

Murray Maye served as inspiration for Ava’s Selma

While Ava DuVernay was born and raised in California, she spent her summer’s near where Murray Maye grew up, near Selma, Alabama.

Murray Maye reportedly witnessed the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches of 1965 and taught a young Ava about their significance. This would ultimately lead DuVernay to make the 2014 historical drama, Selma.

DuVernay made history with Selma as the first African-American woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director, and the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for AFI

Ava DuVernay honors Murray Maye after sudden death

On March 20, 2016, Ava DuVernay took to Instagram to pay tribute to Murray Maye after his passing.

“My hero. My father. Murray Maye. The best man I’ve ever known,” DuVernay wrote alongside a picture of the director and her father. “We took this picture a few years back while scouting for SELMA near his birthplace in Lowndes County, Alabama. It was a good day. We had many, many, many good days together. Blessings all. He journeyed onto the next realm this week. Out of the blue, he is no longer here. And yet, he remains. I’ll see him again when it’s my time. Until then, watch over me, Pops.”

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Eve Edwards is a staff writer for The Focus who has been with GRV Media since April 2019. Having gained a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Bristol, Eve joined GRV starting out as a writer for Reality Titbit before making her way over to HITC. With a passion for music, TV, and cultural news, Eve eventually found a home at The Focus. Eve spent 2021-2022 freelancing for GRV Media while she completed a Masters in Music Performance, and brings her wide array of interests to the company in her written work. In Eve's spare time you'll find her working her way through the day's Wordle, Heardle, and Quordle, or struggling to complete The Guardian's cryptic crossword.