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Black History Month: An Interview With Autism Advocate Areva Martin

Areva Martin is an award-winning attorney, best-selling author, legal commentator, talk show host, and a critical voice for social justice. She has a son, Marty, who has autism. I interviewed Areva Martin for Black History Month because her advocacy for Marty reminded me of my own mom. When I was diagnosed at age 7 with autism, my mom quit her job as an art teacher and became a full-time Ron teacher. Like Areva Martin, my mom fought hard for the accommodations and resources I required to succeed in school and graduate from college.

How were you able to overcome poverty conditions in St. Louis to attend an Ivy League university?

I grew up in a housing project in North St. Louis with my grandmother who was a paraplegic from a gunshot wound and my godmother who earned a living as a janitor. I was blessed to be surrounded by powerful, resilient, optimistic, hardworking, salt of the earth, women and they were the backbone of my family and community. They inspired me to persevere and provided me with unconditional love and support. My grandmother and godmother encouraged me to attend college.

I received a scholarship to the University of Chicago and graduated with honors and a bachelor’s degree in economics. After graduating, I applied to Harvard, Yale, and Stanford and got accepted into all three. Being from a low-income family I had to take out a student loan to pay for tuition to Harvard. I will never forgot my upbringing and I use my platform to help those with disabilities and who live in poverty to gain a voice.

Who were your mentors growing up and how did they empower you to be an attorney?

My mentors were my grandmother and godmother who taught me to root for the underdog and the importance of character. My godmother

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An Interview With Areva Martin

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