Journeys That Opened Up the World: Women, Student Christian Movements, and Social Justice, 1955-1975

By Sara M. Evans | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 14
Renetia Martin

My life was crafted by community, and it was in the breath-giving lap of tight-spun, playful, earnest, and loving groups of human beings that I became a woman and a creator of community myself. My family came five generations ago from the South to California. The first substantial migration of black people to the state was to work in the shipyards during World War II, but by that time my grandmother was already well established in her house in the center of South Berkeley. I was the first-born daughter and granddaughter, and it seems I've always been doted on … in my imagination. I felt homely and unattractive as a child and yearned to be a princess. I pretended to be Herself: my version of Snow White.

Not long ago, I was negotiating the congested streets of my hometown, and I turned to my now husband and said, “I used to skate these streets, along Alcatraz between Shattuck and Sacramento.” It was a healthy distance, but safe and serene in the old days. On each block lived at least one or two family members. Around every corner was a neighbor, friend, family member, or an acquaintance of my grandmother. I was enveloped by the sense of safety and protection, and never gave a thought to the possibility that my folks might worry about me.

My parents divorced early, and I lived with my mother, but I spent time with my father and stepmother and their children. Most of the women in my family worked in the home, but my mother worked in department stores as a clerk and gift-wrap specialist until she became a grocery checker at Safeway. All the family was poor, and she needed to work hard to get by. She rang up groceries until her body gave out. Major surgeries on her back, knees, and neck could not restore her, and along with her health, her relationship with me deteriorated as well. My mother had two other children from a traumatic second marriage, and much of the responsibility for our household fell upon me, since she worked long hours away from us. I cooked, cleaned, and babysat,

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Journeys That Opened Up the World: Women, Student Christian Movements, and Social Justice, 1955-1975
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Journeys That Opened Up the World *
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 1 - Ruth Harris 15
  • Chapter 2 - Jeanne Audrey Powers 45
  • Chapter 3 - Rebecca Owen 66
  • Chapter 4 - Elmira Kendricks Nazombe 84
  • Chapter 5 - Jill Foreman 104
  • Chapter 6 - Charlotte Bunch 122
  • Chapter 7 - Tamela Hultman 140
  • Chapter 8 - M. Sheila Mccurdy 157
  • Chapter 9 - Alice Hageman 174
  • Chapter 10 - Jan Griesinger 191
  • Chapter 11 - Eleanor Scott Meyers 208
  • Chapter 12 - Nancy D. Richardson 226
  • Chapter 13 - The Repairer of the Breach (isaiah 58:12) 237
  • Chapter 14 - Renetia Martin 240
  • Chapter 15 - Frances E. Kendall 249
  • Chapter 16 - Margarita Mendoza De Sugiyama 262
  • Notes on Contributors 271
  • Index 275
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