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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

MARTIN, James L.

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Dr. James L. Martin. Photo courtesy: Dr. Martin

MARTIN, James L. (Dubuque, IA- ). Martin was the first black American admitted to LORAS ACADEMY; first black student to study at LORAS COLLEGE where he was a member of the Reserved Officers' Training Corps (ROTC); and the first black hired to teach in the Waterloo, Iowa, parochial school system. Martin did graduate work in microbiology at Marquette University under a graduate fellowship announced while he was a senior at Loras. (1) While at Marquette he was an assistant professor of biology. (2)

In 1955 Martin was one of five Dubuque residents who enlisted in the Army for three years and was enrolled in the preventive medicine school. (3) He was assigned to Brooks Hospital, San Antonio, Texas where he was cited for outstanding performance of duty by his commanding officer. This led to his enrollment in the Order of Blue and Gold. (4)

Martin also studied Iowa State Teacher's College and Tennessee State University. In 1966 he graduated second in his class from Meharry Medical College, School of Dentistry, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Martin joined the faculty of Meharry Medical College in 1967 and became a professor in the Department of Operative Dentistry. He also served as the dental director and project director for comprehensive health care programs for children and youth in Tennessee. Martin contributed research to many publications in the area of his special interest, leukoedema. Prior to his investigations, textbooks listed leukoedema, a benign lesion, as only occurring in adults. Martin discovered its occurrence in children. (5) In 1975 he earned a master of public health degree from the University of Michigan. Martin coordinated the dental section of Meharry's Center for Unmet Needs for Health and Welfare and was appointed to the executive advisory committee of the American Board of Forensic Dentistry.

Martin was listed in Who's Who Among Black Americans, International Who's Who of Intellectuals, Directory of Distinguished Americans, 2008 edition of Who's Who in America, and the 2007-2008 Cambridge Who's Who. (6) In 1982, he received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Loras College. (7)

Selected Writings:

Martin, James L. "Leukoedema: A Review of the Literature. Online: http://pubmedcentralcanada.ca/picrender.cgi?accid=PMC2571748&blobtype=pdf

Martin, James L. "Histologic Features of Leukoedema in the Negro." The New York State Dental Journal, June, 1972, p. 295-8



1. "Loras Places Eight Students in Med Schools," Telegraph-Herald, May 23, 1954, p. 9

2. "Pvt. Martin Cited for 'Outstanding' Duty Performance," Telegraph-Herald, December 25, 1955, p. 12

3. "Dubuque land Men Get Assignments to Army Schools," Telegraph-Herald, October 16, 1955, p. 4

4. "Pvt. Martin..."

5. School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Fall 2008 Volume 24, Number 1

6. Ibid.

7. "Area Colleges Hold Commencements," Telegraph Herald, May 9, 1982, p. 6

Special thanks to Gerald C. Gordon