Joseph Bacon Martin III '62
During college years, his voice was one of encouragement and cheer, geographically from the sidelines, but metaphorically in the midst of the play; this same voice was softer in the residence halls and classrooms, a thoughtful source of reason and brotherhood. After graduation with the Class of 1962, his voice became one of support for the first Black man to enroll at Davidson. Later, after earning a doctorate in English Literature from Duke University, his voice rose above others in Charlotte's rapidly growing North Carolina National Bank, as he worked to build bridges between men and women trying to hear one another across an imposing ravine of economic and cultural differences. Throughout the years, informed by intellect, scholarship, and deep faith, the voice has grown wiser and increasingly profound, clearer, and when necessary, louder -- this is the voice of Joe Martin.
Born into a South Carolina family steeped in the tradition of the Presbyterian Church, Joe thought he might follow his dad's footsteps into the ministry, when, like his father and three brothers, he came to Davidson College for a liberal education. Instead, he chose a ministry of a different sort, immersing himself in the community through one of its most powerful corporate forces, and using that power quietly and steadily for the good of his family -- which he had learned from his parents included the whole human race. Thus, the humane sensibility of Joe Martin has been felt on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board, in the Urban League, as an elder in the Covenant Presbyterian Church, and on myriad city, county and state task forces, councils, and commissions. In recognition of his exceptional contributions to furthering equal opportunity for African-Americans and improving race relations in the Charlotte community, the Charlotte Urban League presented Joe Martin with the Whitney M. Young Award.
Because you are a scholar, a churchman, and the very best of neighbors; because you have an uncommon awareness of the challenges of human relations and an equally uncommon refusal to submit to those challenges; because you demand so much more than tolerance of diversity; because you embrace and rejoice in differences and speak to them in a voice filled with humor, wisdom and love; because you have served your family as a loving son, brother, husband, father, and now grandfather, your alma mater with loyalty and innovation, and your city and state as a citizen leader; because you confront personal challenges with your typical optimism and courage, becoming an informed, relentless advocate for yourself and others; and because the whole work of your life demonstrates leadership through servanthood , the Alumni Association proudly names you, Joseph Bacon Martin III, as the first recipient of the John W. Kuykendall Award for Community Service, on the occasion of the Class of 1962's 35th Reunion, April 19, 1997.