Dr. Annie B. Martin was a gracious, caring and sharing stalwart of the NAACP. A coterie of loved ones and admirers, including numerous notables, attended her funeral services last Monday at First AME Church: Bethel, where the Rev. Henry A. Belin III officiated and led the chorus of fond memories.
As expected, such NAACP leaders as President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, Chairman of the Board of Directors Roslyn Brock and Charles Claytor, member of New York branch’s Executive Committee, spoke of Martin’s indefatigable leadership and unflinching commitment to civil and human rights.
Martin, 91, made her transition on June 12, and speaker after speaker reminded listeners of her glorious passage among us and her devotion to her colleagues and family.
And it was her family and close associates who equaled the outpouring of love offered by Dr. Chika Onyeani, editor and publisher of the African Sun Times; Mario Cilento, president of the New York AFL-CIO; Vincent Alvarez, president of the New York City Central Labor Council; and Ted Jacobsen, the organization’s president emeritus. Of course, there was the usual eloquent praise dispensed by Rep. Charles Rangel, State Sen. Bill Perkins and Council Member Inez Dickens, but the words from Martin’s unsung loved ones gave the moment special significance and personal resonance.
“Always willing, always helping…always working and making a deal,” were some of the impressions offered by Martin’s sister, Gladys Belin.
Her niece Doris White recalled “one late night talk and our worldly journey, which belongs to only you and I.”
Niece Marlene said, “A thousand words won’t bring you back, I know because I tried. Neither will a million tears, I know because I cried.”
“I will always cherish our December visits when you came as ray of sunshine for my mother, my son and me,” was the combined remarks of Martin’s niece and great nephew, Ina Belin and Samuel Josiah Smith. “Christmas will never be the same in Dillon anymore.”
Dillon, S.C., is just one of the cities that were dear to this native of the state, where she graduated from Allen University in Columbia, S.C., though New York would later claim her and would be where she earned her master’s degrees in social work and guidance and counseling at New York University.
Martin garnered most of her civic recognition as a member of the NAACP’s Board of Directors and her long tenure–16 years–as president of the New York branch.
No matter where she took her stand, recalled Yvonne P. Armstrong, she “stayed sharp in mind, body and soul. Now you can rest in peace, my darling.”
“You will be truly missed but never forgotten,” said her niece Jeanine “Barbara” Ash. “God loved you best.”
There were also tributes from the Revs. Dr. Charles Curtis of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church and Nicolas G. Tweed, president elder, Manhattan district, New York Annual Conference AME Church.
Martin leaves to cherish fond memories one sister, Gladys Belin; four nieces, Ina Belin, Marlene Robinson, Barbara Jean Ash and Doris White; her grandnephew, Samuel Josiah Smith; and a host of other relatives and a multitude of friends.
A second service for Martin will occur in Dillon, S.C., where she will be interred.