Martha Taylor


Martha C. Taylor grew up in Oakland, California. Her parents, (both deceased) Viola and Henry Taylor with their seven children sojourned from Louisiana to California and became part of the Great Migration. Henry worked as a laborer at Moore Dry Dock, Oakland while Viola had her hands full raising seven kids in a cramped two bedroom housing project known as Harbor Homes near the shipyard. The shipyard hired several thousand African Americans at a time when they confronted major racial discrimination on the job.

In her adult life, Martha delved deeply into African American history. She realized her education from elementary through graduate school was incomplete because African Americans and Indians were either marginalized, left out of history books or distorted.

In addition to holding an earned master’s degree in public administration from the University of San Francisco, Martha went on to earn a second master’s degree in divinity from the American Baptist Seminary of the West and a doctorate in Ministry from the San Francisco Theological Seminary where she served as an adjunct professor for over six years in the Doctor of Ministry Program. Martha is the historian for the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., and the historic Allen Temple Baptist Church, Oakland. Martha has written articles for varying magazines as well as unpublished articles.

In her book, From Labor to Reward, by Wipf & Stock publishers, she is recognized as an authority on black church beginnings in the San Francisco Bay Area for her serious research and in-depth study.  Martha is a frequent speaker for professional organizations locally, nationally including South Africa. Martha’s home library consists of a vast collection of books on the politics of oppression, religion, and social movements from the lens of African Americans.

After retirement from the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, Martha decided to pursue her love for higher education in theology with an emphasis on black liberation theology. Martha’s professional membership includes Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco Historical Society, American Academy of Religion, Charter member of the Smithsonian National museum of African American History and Culture. Martha Taylor is duly ordained as an American Baptist and Presbyterian Minister. She conducts workshops and is the founding convener for the Womanist Symposium for the Graduate Theological Union Berkeley. Martha’s favorite history quote: “I want American history taught. Unless I’m in the book, you’re not in it either. History is not a procession of illustrious people. It’s about what happens to a people. Millions of anonymous people is what history is about”. James Baldwin.