Martina McCain was always a willing worker who never complained about whatever obstacles she faced. She understood her role as mother, wife and community worker, and eagerly worked for the improvement of African Americans.
Martina McCain died on Feb. 8, 2006.
Although she was a petite lady, she stood tall against many of life’s adversities, raising eight children during a period when times were tough, and when African-American families faced blatant racism.
Martina was committed to social justice and political activism, working in the 1940s and 1950s for rent control and laboring in the airplane plants during the World War II. She marched on Washington, D.C. during the 1940s, fighting for justice for the Scottsboro Boys and also attended the historic March on Washington in 1963.
She was also a member of Operation Breadbasket. After moving to Atlanta, Ga., she worked for many years for the NAACP as a volunteer on various political campaigns, including that of former mayor Andrew Young.
In a 2005 poster, emerging new artist Doyle Cloyd, one of Martina’s grandsons, created “The Sunflower Sista,” inspired by a photo of Martina standing in a field of sunflowers.
Martina McCain was born March 26, 1913 in Waggoner, Okla. She was the only child of Lewis and Alice Rose. The family relocated to Chicago when she was one, and she lived there until 1978.
Martina was educated in the Chicago Public Schools. In 1928, she married William Cloyd. Together, they had eight children: William, Darnell, Marvin, Wayne, Audrey, Rochelle, Rita and Evelyn. All four of her sons preceded her in death.
She remarried in 1964 to Douglas McCain, who preceded her in death in May 2004. In 1978, Martina and Douglas relocated to Atlanta, Ga., where she lived until her death. For the past several years she and Douglas lived with her youngest daughter, Evelyn who cared for both until their deaths.
Martina is survived by her daughters, Audrey (St. Clair) Booker, Rochelle (James) Sesley, Evelyn “Cookie” (Leon) Hall, Rita Cloyd, and stepchildren Delores and Dennis McCain; her grandchildren, Kim and Larry Pittman, Audrey, Erin, Darnell, Darryl, Doyle, Kwanzaa, Khobi, Bwia, William III, Marvin, Wendy, and Whitney; her two nieces, Onnie and Willadene; a host of great-grandchildren; her daughters-in-law, Gwendolyn and Ernestine Cloyd; and her sister-in-law, Lilly (Roy) McCain of Milwaukee, Wis.
The family would like to extend their deep appreciation to caretakers Charlene Philpot and Carrie Middleton for their support and tireless contribution to their mother’s care.
Martina McCain touched many hearts. She was someone who reached for your hand when you needed her. So we don’t cry because her physical presence is over, but smile because she was here to be mother, grandmother, wife and friend to so many. We loved her not because of who she was, but because of who we became when we were with her.