“We recognize the significant contributions Lieutenant Martin made to our country as he redefined the face of the Navy as one of ‘The Golden Thirteen,’ as well as his impact on the City of Indianapolis,” said Mayor Ballard. “I’m proud to name one of our parks after a man who stands out in history as a leader in so many ways.”
The Department of Parks and Recreation Board voted in May to change the name of the park to Lieutenant Junior Grade Graham Edward Martin Park. Martin attended nearby Crispus Attucks High School and excelled on the football team and in the classroom as the valedictorian and president of his senior class. In 1941 he graduated from Indiana University, where he played college football, and earned a master’s degree from Howard University in 1942 before enlisting in the Navy. At that time in military history African-Americans were segregated from the rest of the Navy community.
Martin was assigned to the Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Ill., and eventually allowed to play football. In 1944, the Navy chose Martin as one of the first 13 African-American men to train to become officers. They were commissioned as officers and created a path that changed the armed forces forever. Martin served four year in the Navy as a ship commander.
“This dedication is a fitting legacy to a man who delivered historic service to his nation and community,” said Congressman Carson.
Martin returned to Indianapolis to coach varsity football and baseball at Crispus Attucks High School from 1947-1982. Graham was a member of the Indiana Club, Varsity Club IU Alumni Association, and Navy League, life member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and of the NAACP, and he attended Phillips Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. He was married to his high school sweetheart, Alma Patterson, for 57 years and had one child, Elayne Graham.
“It is with great pride that I send this thank you to the City of Indianapolis for the renaming of the park in honor of my father, Graham E. Martin,” said Elayne Graham Lewis. “My father was proud to represent this city as a member of the IU football team and the United States Navy. He often attributed his success to the education and character building skills he acquired at Crispus Attucks High School. He was a very humble man who never sought attention for himself but always fought for justice for his students and fellow citizens.”
The dedication ceremony for Lieutenant Junior Grade Graham Edward Martin Park took place during 2011 Navy Week in Indianapolis. Indianapolis is one of 21 cities across the country hosting 2011 Navy Week, celebrating a proud, 100-year history of naval service to our country.
“We are so proud that the City of Indianapolis and its citizens are paying tribute to one of our own – an officer who overcame surmountable obstacles as one of ‘The Golden Thirteen.’ Martin was a pioneer by setting an example for our African-American sailors and officers who serve in our Navy today,” said Vice Admiral Harnitchek. “Sailors, officers and Navy civilians are called to serve – to defend freedom at home or abroad, and they do so with honor, courage and commitment, like Lieutenant Martin did many years ago. They have answered the call to serve America, protect the nation’s security and carry out the Maritime Strategy every day around the globe.”
via press release