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Boca names a street for a woman who made a difference

From left Rev. Ronald Brown, Joseph Martin, Mayor Scott Singer and State Sen. Tina Polsky

By Marci Shatzman

On what would have been her 95th birthday, a colorful sign dedicating Glades Road between Federal and Dixie highways Lois D. Martin Way was unveiled to honor the late Pearl City educator and activist’s legacy .

Officials and her son Joseph Martin ceremoniously pulled the cover off the sign and presented smaller versions to Lois Martin’s extended family. The ceremony was held across the street from Ebenezer Baptist Church, “Sister” Martin’s cornerstone, and capped a celebration of her life’s work to preserve her Pearl City birthplace, and advocate for public housing in nearby Dixie Manor. She passed away last year.

“I’m not a fluke, I’m real,” Martin said in a video recorded earlier in lifetime, shown on screens behind the pulpit. In fact, a city community center was named for her in 1985. She was the first woman of color to have her name embedded in a star on Boca Raton Historical Society’s Walk of Recognition, and held leadership positions on several city advisory boards.

Speakers at Martin’s celebration of life included Ebenezer pastor Rev. Ronald Brown, Pearl City advocate Marie Hester, State Sen. Tina Polsky, who introduced the street naming resolution in Florida’s legislature, and Boca Raton Scott Singer. “Neice-by-love” Andrea Patrice Hudson Bowdry cited Lois Martin’s accomplishments. Joseph Martin emotionally read a letter to his mother he wrote for the occasion.

Hester told attendees that Pearl City, the city’s historic district as a formerly segregated Black community, is now about to be named on the national historic register.

Earlier in her life, Lois Martin recorded a video that was shown at the celebration of her life

Boca City Council attended, as did former now retired Deputy Mayor Andrea O’Rourke, who initiated and championed Martin’s street naming. Police officials were also there, and squad cars blocked off the entire street for the naming. Martin’s late husband was the first Black Boca Raton police officer, a family member said. 

Afterward Hester, president of the interracial change group that sponsored both events, dedicated a new tree in honor of Len Baker, another Pearl City advocate whose recent death impacted the community. “We’re honoring her on the Wall of Recognition for people who have passed,” society executive director Mary Csar said about this year’s event on Nov. 1 at The Addison.

Then Martin’s family walked a block to gather under the nearby banyan “Tree of Knowledge,” that she successfully fought to save as a neighborhood gathering place, to share their own memories.

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