My earliest memory of my friend and mentor in the newspaper business Sam Martin goes back to the late sixties. Sam would come by my house on California Street and take pictures of my Boy Scout troop for the paper. Over the years, the friendship grew into a partnership of him selling the Black Voice News to my family in 1980, which is one of the three papers he help found.
During that time, I learned that Sam was a major proponent of believing we should have control of the vehicle that communicated information to our people and community.
He would tell me that during the political season people will say things that might be against your people and without the newspaper, it can go unchallenged and become the truth of our people even if false. He also told me some people will offer you wealth for your paper’s opinion and you have to remain unbought and never bow down to pressure.
Another thing I learned from this self taught man was you are never too old to learn. Sam taught himself how to operate every technological change in the printing of a newspaper including the modern computer. He developed his own pictures back in the day. Part of the reason for this self-training was one time we were printing a story that our contracted White typist thought we should not print and she did not want to type it for us. Needless to say, that week, we did it ourselves.
On many of the issues that came up during the late sixties, seventies and eighties, Sam could be found in the mix of them offering advice. His business and political contacts in the Inland Empire were many and he shared them with me. By Sam being the first African American on the San Bernardino County Central Democratic Committee, he had history with many people. It was because of his political involvement that the name of the memo graphic newsletter printed in his garage became the name of the Precinct Reporter Newspaper.
Sam was a co-founder of the Precinct Reporter, The Black Voice News and founder of the American News that we own today. His daughter Mary Martin Harris along with her husband Clifton publishes the paper from Victorville to carry on his legacy.
This is not a bad legacy for a man from Mississippi, during the time Blacks could be lynched for trying to print a paper, then raised in Needles and moving to San Bernardino uneducated, but still having the desire to help a community that was not fully receptive to independent thinking people like Sam Martin. Sam Martin was a man who was unbowed and unbought.
Brother Winfred Breland A Gentle Giant
A gentle giant was called home last week. I say a gentle giant because Brother Winfred Breland owner and operator of Breland Bus Lines was a mainstay for those who loved to travel by bus. I served with him on the Steward Board, singing in the choir at St. Paul AME Church in San Bernardino.
Brother Breland could be in a room with you and you would not know he was there unless he knew you. He could be funny with close friends and when he would speak it was from experience as he spoke with much thought and wisdom.
I recall many times my wife Cheryl would call Brother Breland for a trip to Sacramento for the youth or a political visit to the capitol on behalf of an issue. The church used him as their own personal bus service when asked to visit other churches in Los Angeles or San Diego.
Another reason he is a giant is because he took the risk to start his own business which his son carries on to this day. His example to me and others to follow, is to go into business while looking for a job. Find something you love to do and try and make a living out of it like Brother Breland. He loved to drive and his passion turned into a business which he be passed down to his family.
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