Jean Martin was an inspiration

Published 9:34 pm Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dear Editor,

Let the world know that we have lost an extraordinary woman, Ms. Jean Martin.

There are few women more charming, and intelligent than she was. She was a constant inspiration to me, not only for her caring about Selma but also because she always shared her open-minded perspective of the world with me. I admired her outspokenness.

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My father knew I liked writing and one day he surprised me by taking me to meet Ms. Martin. I met Ms. Martin for the first time when I was 14-years-old.’ I could not believe that I was having lunch with Ms. Martin. Although Ms. Martin told me these words many years ago, I never forgot them; “Gerald, women in your era will be in leadership roles when before in my era women were treated sometimes as second fiddles. But now women are at the frontlines making headlines because of their achievements. Your era is no longer going to be dominated by men but both genders have equal opportunities.”

Ms. Martin went onto say, if you want to be a writer, take it seriously and go for it, I will help you any way I can.

Ms. Martin challenged me to go home and write an article that day about what children can do to make their communities better. She reminded me that all good newspaper articles start off with a good headline that will entice the readers to follow up and read the whole article. Ms. Martin edited my very first newspaper article; she made me write that article over six times. Because Ms. Martin was so humble, she probably didn’t realize what she taught me: write everyday and don’t give in to writer’s block.

My work has allowed me to meet incredible women at all levels of their careers: Those just starting out, filled with both fear and unbridled possibility; those who’ve found some success and are trying not only to sustain it but also kick it into the next gear; and those at the very top, from self-made millionaires to heads of state and major corporate players. However, Ms. Martin was, and still is, one of the most inspirational and influential women I have ever met.

She was as enthusiastic about writing as she was about life. She will forever be my inspiration to me and scores of women and nothing will ever change that. Let us all pay tribute to this great woman, Ms. Jean Martin. She will be missed.

Gerald Chestnut Riberio