It’s always hard to say goodbye, especially to someone you considered a friend, a comrade and a champion of our gente. The recent passing of Maria Martin left a heavy heart for those of us who knew her. 

Maria was a tireless reporter and creative radio producer. She founded the bilingual, weekly radio show “Mujeres Por la Raza” on KBBF in Santa Rosa,  as well as the longest-running national program “Latino USA” on National Public Radio in Austin, Tex. 

More recently, Maria founded GraciasVida Center for Media in Antigua Guatemala that worked to improve the skills and working situation for rural and indigenous journalists in Guatemala, Bolivia, and Nicaragua. The center also sought to improve the coverage of Central America in U.S. public radio.

Maria authored a book, titled “Crossing Bridges: A Journalist’s Heart in Latin America.” In the book, Maria tells how she overcame the many obstacles of racism and sexism and forging a path for the next generation of independent Latino journalists, especially women. 

Maria also earned a masters degree in journalism from Ohio State University.

In our conversations, Maria was intent on improving the coverage of Latinos both here and abroad. During her visits to San Francisco, Maria would often stop by the office of El Tecolote to see how we were doing and to share story ideas for our readership. We would oftentimes have passionate discussions about our responsibility as storytellers of the Latino experience. In fact, Maria’s passion for journalism earned her various honors like a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for her story, “Who Were the Torturers? The Betrayal of Sister Dianna Ortiz,” which aired on Latino USA in November 1999.

Likewise, in September 2015, Maria was inducted into the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Hall of Fame. 

Although Maria’s passing on Dec. 2, 2023, in Austin after complications from surgery is a sad moment, what she accomplished in her 72 years will long be treasured. The legacy she created as a storyteller will no doubt give light to the next generation of Latino journalists. 

Maria will long be remembered for her commitment and dedication to the service of the Latino community. ¡Maria Martin, Presente!