Danny Martin was an amazing young man.
In 1976, he spoke out against the mentality of the National Front and other such groups, which had been attempting to spread their racist message in Crawley.
Despite undergoing treatment for cancer, the 16-year-old focussed all his attention on righting a building wrong.
He wrote a letter to the Crawley Observer calling on people to make a stand for what he knew to be right – unity.
His letter ended with the line: “Leave the British race and join the human race”.
As a result of Danny’s efforts, the Crawley Campaign Against Racism was born and will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year. Months after the campaign was born, Danny succumbed to the cancer, dying at the tragically young age of 17, in February 1977.
It was testimony to the impact his words had had on Crawley that people lined the road to pay their respects as the hearse went past.
The Observer reported: “The chapel was crowded with his friends.
“Previously the cortège had driven slowly past Thomas Bennett School, which had closed early for the funeral service.
“Teachers and pupils lined the road outside.”
Danny’s letter to the Observer was read by Ian Stewart, head of humanities at Thomas Bennett, and Mr Jhanas, leader of the Three Bridges Sikh community.
Both men were members of the Crawley Campaign Against Racism (CCAR).
The report continued: “Although Danny was very much a product of his own generation, with all its difficulties, he recognised that, whatever a person’s race, colour, class or creed, all men deserve equal treatment.
“He believed all people were of equal value and should be on equal terms.”
Danny was the son of Leslie and Barbara Martin, of Furnace Green, and younger brother to Andrew.
Barbara continued to carry the torch of tolerance and equality in Danny’s name, and continued to work with the CCAR until her death, at the age of 85, in February.
To call Danny Martin one of a kind would not be accurate – he was one of many. But he was the first one to take a stand against racism and help Crawley to find its multi-cultural voice. For that, we owe him our thanks.
To find out more about the Crawley Campaign Against Racism, log on to www.crawleycar.org.uk or search for crawleycar on Facebook.
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