Obit for J. Sella Martin, editor of “The New Era” [NY Times, August 17, 1876]

Frederick Douglass saw them come and he saw them go. A good friend of mine, Anthony Moore, who inspired this book said, “Everyone died, but ol’ Freddy-Fred stuck around.” Indeed.

In the 1870s  Douglass saw, among others, Charles Remond, Salmon P. ChaseCharles Sumner, Henry Wilson, William Lloyd Garrison to the grave. Another man that Douglass outlived was John Sella Martin, one of the main antagonists who courted Douglass to back the start-up of a negro newspaper in Washington, DC in the years following the Civil War.

Born enslaved, Martin was learned as he came to be a valet de chambre, or personal assistant, to his owner. Like Douglass, he got ghost and fled to the North where he became affiliated with the Church.

Martin’s name appears on the inaugural masthead of The New Era (January 13. 1870), but by the fall his name’s no longer affiliated with the paper. Less than six year years later, Martin, more than a decade younger than Douglass, was dead.

News of his death was carried in the New York Times.

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