Task Force mourns passing of activist Vera Martin

The Task Force mourns the passing of Vera Martin, a founder of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change (OLOC), a fierce civil rights activist for African-Americans, LGBT people and others. According to OLOC, she passed away Oct. 3 at the age of 89.

Annalee Stewart and Vera Martin (right) at the OLOC caucus at Creating Change 2011.

At the Task Force, Vera will always be remembered as a perennial attendee of our National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change. She participated in the annual OLOC caucus for old lesbians and as a workshop presenter on numerous other sessions. In 1999, Vera addressed Creating Change in Oakland, Calif., as part of a plenary panel titled “Our Movement’s Next Century” examining the challenges facing the LGBT movement in the future.

Sue Hyde, director of the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change, says:

Vera Martin’s fierce determination to secure freedom, social justice and equality for all of us inspires the Task Force and all our family to work harder, live more fully, and never give up the fight. Thank you, Vera, for all that you have done, all that you have been, and all the great energy you brought to your life and to our lives. We will miss you terribly.

More about Vera Martin

According to her OLOC biography, Vera worked for Los Angeles County from 1946 until her retirement in 1985. During her tenure, she had worked her way through 13 different county departments, finally becoming a supervisor and systems analyst. Early in her career she nearly lost her job for refusing to sign a loyalty oath, and was very active in civil rights issues all through her life.

She served on the board of the Black Gay and Lesbian Leadership Forum, and was a founder of OLOC in 1989. She served on its steering committee for 14 years, seven of those as co-director. Vera and other OLOC members helped establish an auxiliary group within the American Society of Aging to address issues related to aging LGBT people. 

 In her years as a civil rights worker she belonged to groups such as the NAACP, Urban League, CORE, Local 660 AFL/CIO, among others.

You’ll find more about Vera via Mobile Homecoming, an oral history project. Read more here, and watch a video clip here.