“As a child, I was kind of a loner, so, I read a lot–W.E.B. Dubois and Marcus Garvey– understanding my history and what it is to be Black in America. By the time I grew up, I realized I owed a debt to so many people who had fought and died for me to be here,” said Tara L. Martin, New York State field director for Obama for America.
This energetic, soon to be 32-year-old has a resume that makes one step back and take a deep breath before getting to the last line. (By the way, New York State had the largest percentage of the vote–62 percent–for Barack Obama!)
For starters, Martin actually holds down a job as senior associate for political strategies for Morris Allsop, LLC, with an office down on Wall Street, where she toils in the firm’s political strategies’ division. She is a consummate campaign and government affairs professional with a “few” years experience in voter mobilization, voter outreach strategies and grassroots organizing.
While developing these skills, Martin served as a district director for now-Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-11 Dist.), director of community relations for the office of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, former national chair of the Minority Caucus of Young Democrats of America, deputy state director and political director for Gov. Howard Dean’s campaign and the list goes on and on.
In 2004, Martin was sent to Ohio to build a voting block for presidential candidate John Kerry. “People asked me after that campaign if I was upset that we lost Ohio, and I said no, because we knew we had established something for the future. And look at how the Democrats have risen to power in Ohio,” she said.
A native Staten Islander, Martin is a very private person, who gives credit to her parents and her maternal grandparents for establishing within her psyche that she could accomplish what she willed. “I knew that after they poured their hearts into my being, I couldn’t just sit on the sidelines and watch the world go by and not be involved,” she said.
Martin came into her own back in the late 1990s, when she became a cub reporter for The Black Reignnewspaper, which was published by Rance Huff, another young rising star in New York City politics who now serves Queens Councilman Leroy Comrie in various capacities.
She called working under Huff “an amazing experience,” and there was, of course, the camaraderie. “We were a family,” she said. “I always tell people that I am indebted to Black Reign, for that is where I first found my voice of advocacy, the need to fight for the rights of people who have been victimized.”
But, the only thing Martin really wants to talk about is the way people pulled together in the state to deliver a victory to President-elect Barack Obama. “We made history in this state with the largest grassroots organization– 20,000 people on the ground. Three million phone calls were made from New York to the ‘battleground states’.
“I’m not just proud of being a field director for a winning candidate. I’m proud and inspired by the team that was put together–they loved this candidate!” she said.
“You cannot beat that kind of connectivity, the determination behind the Obama movement, that people really believed our campaign motto– ‘Yes We Can!”