Former Atlanta City Councilmember C.T. Martin passed away today surrounded by his family at his home in Southwest Atlanta. He was 84 years old. Martin was known as the “Dean” of the City Council because he was one of the longest-serving Council members at one time. In December 2017, the City of Atlanta renamed the $27 Million Dollar Adamsville Recreation Center to the C.T. Martin Natatorium and Recreation Center as a tribute to his many decades of service.
Martin was an Atlanta native and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. Martin began his life of service pushing voter registration with the NAACP. He later began volunteering in political campaigns, including assisting mayoral candidates across the region. After graduating from Shaw University with a Bachelor of Science degree, he expected to become an educator and raise a family, but fate had something else in store. Martin later earned a Master of Science degree from Atlanta University and began taking on community issues like fighting for millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements in District 10.
“For twenty years of my public service career, it was my privilege to serve with Council Member Martin,” said Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore. “He established his own footprint during the Civil Rights Era and managed to further extend his leadership as an elected official with significant influence.”
Since his election in 1990, Martin worked to bring the voice of visionary African Americans to the forefront to impact national policy. He was a champion for minority businesses in Atlanta and a fierce “get out the vote” campaign manager throughout the region. He served as a Council member for District 10 for nearly 30 years. He is credited with mentoring and developing many young people over the years, including his eventual successor, Councilmember Andrea L. Boone.
“Councilmember C.T. Martin was a mentor and a friend,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in a statement. “He was my seat mate for eight years on City Council and his lessons of leadership remain with me today. He was a fierce voice for the voiceless and above all else, placed the needs of our communities first. While his physical presence will be missed, his legacy of activism and fight for equity will impact our city for generations to come.”
While on the Council, Martin had many priorities, but none as pressing as public safety, economic stimulus, and providing programs and resources for seniors and youth. He saw great success in pushing initiatives to serve the youth in the city of Atlanta. One of his many achievements was demolishing a drug-infested apartment complex and building the multi-million dollar Adamsville Natatorium and Community Center from the ground up. As a top priority of his first term, Martin spearheaded a historic first for District 10 – an initiative to unleash economic power in the district with the creation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive Merchants Association. A longtime activist of Southside development, Martin fought to include the designation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive corridor as a priority in a master redevelopment plan for the city’s Southside.
“Atlanta has lost one of its greatest native sons, C.T. Martin,” said U.S. Representative Nikema Williams. “For nearly 30 years, he served with distinction on the Atlanta City Council, uplifting the voices of the SW Atlanta community. Martin was a fearless leader for justice and steadfast ally for marginalized communities. The entire city of Atlanta owes a debt of gratitude to C.T. Martin that we could never repay. May his memory serve as a guiding light for future generations of leaders in the fight for full equality.”
He served on the Missing and Murdered Children Task Force. Early in his time on the Council, he was appointed by Mayor Bill Campbell to the Atlanta City Budget Commission. In 1994, he was chosen by the Labor Coalition to travel to South Africa to work for political education following the release of Nelson Mandela. During his second and third terms in office, he held three key chairmanships – Human Resources, Public Safety, and Transportation. Over his 30 years of service to the community and in various areas of government, Martin was a strong advocate for education, social services, senior citizen protection, voter rights and enfranchisement, neighborhood preservation, and private business enterprise. For this commitment, he received numerous honors, awards, and recognition.
Councilmember Martin also has led legislative initiatives to rename Atlanta Hartsfield Airport in honor of the late Maynard Jackson, the city’s first African American mayor. Martin was a board member for the West End Medical Center and chairman of the City of Atlanta Employee Credit Union Board.
A graduate of Leadership Atlanta, Martin had affiliations with numerous service organizations. In 1972, he received a presidential appointment from the White House Domestic Policy Council. For more than 20 years, he served the National Scholarship Service for Negro Students (NSSFNS) and influenced college minority recruitment policy nationwide. During his public service career, he received well over 350 community service awards for outstanding service. His off-term work included serving as a consultant on political campaigns and spearheading strategic planning activity and youth programming. He was elected by Georgia’s Democratic Party to serve as a delegate to Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 and 2012.
Martin leaves behind four adult children and five grandchildren. He was a dedicated member of Hoosier Memorial United Methodist Church.