Rev. Lawrence Martin, pastor, civic leader dies at 86

   Rev. Lawrence Martin, the pastor of Trenton Baptist Church in West Monroe, died this week. He was 86 years old.

   He was actively serving as the pastor of Trenton, where he was pastor for 47 years.

   Rev. Martin was a member of the historic Martin family that promoted education, religious instruction, and social justice in Northeast Louisiana.

   He was the son of the late Dr. B.F. Martin, who led the creation of the United Theological Seminary network in several states. The family goal was to educate Black preachers who would lead the direction of the community in their generation. Rev. Martin worked alongside his father, and was the Provost of the United Theological Seminary when he died this week.

   In addition, he was the nephew of the late Rev. E.T. Martin who worked diligently to address the social needs of the community through an organized and structural response. Rev. Martin worked alongside his uncle to implement many social changes in his era, one of which ultimately resulted in the establishment of the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) in Monroe.

   A graduate of Morehouse College, Rev. Martin was a product of the thinkers who graduated from Morehouse at the time. One of its most notable graduates in the late 40s and 50s was, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. graduated from Morehouse when he was just 19 in 1948.  Just five years later Dr. King would be thrust into the national limelight challenging racial injustice across the nation. When Dr. King marched and protested, Rev. Lawrence Martin was among the youth, who marched with him, he was barely 20 years old. Rev. Martin is the only person from our city who actually marched beside Dr. King.

   He returned to Northeast Louisiana and followed the legacy of his father and uncle and others in the Martin Family. He became a minister, and served as pastor of at least two congregations: The Springfield Baptist Church in Gibsland, and the Trenton Baptist Church in West Monroe.

   As an educator, he was an instructor at Carroll High School and gained a reputation for his perception, understanding, and his amazing vocabulary. 

   As a preacher, it was not unusual for Rev. Martin to string together metaphors and alliterations that ended in six to ten syllable words. He was a master wordsmith.

   Young and articulate he was a part of the cadre of young men who worked to educate the black electorate about the importance of participating in the electoral process.

   In 1960, when he was only 24 years old, he joined a coalition of young Black men who sought to inspire blacks to register to vote, after the great voter purge of 1956 had removed over 5, 000 parish blacks from the voting rolls. The young men included: L.T. Shamlin, Richard O. Miles, Willie Haynes, Jr., and Dr. John I. Reddix who qualified to run for election to parish leadership seats, knowing they would not win. Their goal was to reinstall hope in the process among black voters.

  In 1960, Rev. Martin qualified for the District F. Seat on the Ouachita Parish Police Jury. He lost, but hundreds of black registered to vote for him, as expected. Reddix, Miles, Shamlin, and Haynes also lost, but their goal was achieved.

  In 1970, Rev. Martin was part of a think-tank comprised of men such as Haynes, Abe E. Pierce, III, Alfred Blakes, and others that reactivated the Ouachita Parish N.A.A.C.P. and began the push to change Monroe’s government to its present single member district plan.

  As pastor of Trenton he preached an uncompromising social Gospel of faith, and service to others.

  Recently, Rev. Martin was among local pastors who were honored for over 25 years of service. 

  Funeral services for Rev. Martin are incomplete but will be under the auspices of McFarland Funeral Home.