editor and publisher, Michigan Chronicle
“We have heard the often-repeated line that: ‘The time has come when social changes are necessary if we are to preserve democracy.’ Yet all these new concepts and all this new liberalism vanishes as if by magic when the American Negro stands up.” Louis Emanuel Martin, “The Fighting Editor,” was born in Tennessee in 1912 and raised in Savannah, Georgia. Martin would later move back to Tennessee to attend Fisk Academy, since there were no black accredited high schools in Savannah. In 1936, just two years after graduating from the University of Michigan, Martin took over as editor of the Michigan Chronicle. With his guidance, the newspaper grew from less than 1,000 circulation in 1936 to more than 25,000 in 1944. His editorials reveal a strong, concerned man struggling to correct racial injustice in America. Martin will best be remembered in history as the most influential black political advisor to both John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, but his voice and influence within the Kennedy-Johnson White House should not be thought of as the voice of one lone individual. Rather, his impressive behind-the-scenes involvement in the central political events of the 1960’s ought to be viewed as that of a well-versed representative of black protest tradition that African-American newspapers nurtured and sustained. David Garrow, professor at Emory University in Atlanta, summed up Martin’s work: “Above all, however, his Detroit editorship taught Martin – as he in turn would teach thousands of others-that the struggle for equality and justice was unceasing and that protest was the essence of black life in America.” Martin died Jan. 29, 1997 at age 84.