By Stacy M. Brown
Areva Martin grew up in North St. Louis, Missouri, and she said she intuitively knew that something was different about her neighborhood.
“St. Louis is one of the most segregated cities in the nation,” Martin told National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.
The conversation took place inside the NNPA’s state-of-the-art television studio in Washington where Chavis films the PBS-TV show, The Chavis Chronicles.
“When I saw folks who lived on the other side of town, their homes were bigger than a city block. They had massive amounts of wealth. I didn’t have the words, but I knew something wasn’t right about the disparity.”
As her bio states, Martin is passionate, outspoken, and insightful.
Not many can boast a resume like Martin’s.
Martin has appeared on just about every platform available as a producer, content creator, commentator, and talk show host.
Growing up, she desired to attend law school.
After attending the “challenging and predominately white” University of Chicago, Martin went to Harvard Law School and ultimately began a career in corporate law.
After just one year, she opened her own firm.
“I’ve not worked for anyone since then,” she stated. Instead, Martin began representing clients in high-stakes litigation, including discrimination and police brutality cases.
She pointed to the Bruce family in California, who formally received the deed to two parcels of coastal land from county officials in Manhattan Beach in July.
That unfolded more than 90 years after their ancestors — and the original owners (who were Black) — had the land taken from them for racially-motivated reasons.
“The community as a whole has suffered like the Bruce family,” Martin offered. “That’s restorative justice. A lot of people think of it as reparations, but it means an injustice was done to someone. So, we have an obligation morally and legally to make them whole.”
She said there are many more cases like the Bruce family, including some she’s working on currently.
Martin said discrimination remains a hurdle for many, including her two daughters, who attend law school at Columbia.
“They worked this summer at a large firm in New York and had a very similar job that I had,” Martin recounted. “The number of African Americans at these firms today is less than or the same as when I was a first-year law student at Harvard. One of my daughters worked at a firm that hired its first diversity and inclusion officer. At the firm, they showed a videotaped orientation that had all white lawyers and other people. A few African Americans had to go and suggest they consider getting a new video. It’s outdated, and that’s appalling to me.”
Martin also laments the regression seen in the legal and medical professions. “That is a profession starving for Black and Brown students,” Martin stated.
With a son on the autism spectrum, Martin said she’d learned resilience from him.
“Despite his peers ostracizing him and the struggles with things we take for granted, he never complains,” Martin said.
As proactive in her son’s life as any mother would desire, Martin founded the Special Needs Network to help families find resources for autism.
She said the network also helps to build valuable connections.
“One way we have accomplished this is through our community health fair and carnival each year for those with special needs and their siblings,” Martin remarked.
“The kids do arts and crafts, and there are games they play.
“I tell parents to find your village. This is not a journey that parents should undertake on their own,” Martin insisted.
“There is no glory in going at it alone. Seek help from family members, friends, and other parents to help with tasks from housework to medical appointments. Also, be proactive. Learn as much as possible about autism and the resources you can use to help your child.”