• Who was Mary B. Martin?


     Mary B. Martin was the first black woman elected to the Cleveland Board of Education.

    Born Mary Brown in Raleigh, N.C., in 1877, she came to Cleveland in 1886. Martin's parents were former slaves. Martin went to Rockwell School before attending Central High School. She graduated in 1900. Before spending two years teaching in Arkansas and Alabama, Martin attended Cleveland Normal Training School, graduating in 1903. In 1905 she married Alexander Martin, an accomplished lawyer.

    Martin began teaching in the Cleveland public schools in the 1920s and became a school board member in 1930. Martin was not only an educator but also a participant in the women's suffrage movement. Martin was re-elected to the school board in 1939, but she died in November 1939 from a cerebral hemorrhage before she had a chance to start her new term.

    In 1963, a school built on the East Side of Cleveland at 8200 Brookline Avenue was given her name.

    -- Tonya Sams, The Plain Dealer