Maurice M. Martinez, Ph.D. is a Renaissance man. A New Orleans-born poet (often referred to as "MARTY MOST: Jazz Poet," the Crescent City’s original beat poet), photographer, musician and filmmaker, he is a Professor in the Department of Instructional Technology, Foundations and Secondary Education at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. A protégé of poet Langston Hughes, Dr. Martinez is steeped in the African American culture through both his heritage and scholarly endeavors. He has written numerous articles about the Mardi Gras Indians, and his award-winning film (the first definitive treatment on the history and culture of the Mardi Gras Indians) titled: “THE BLACK INDIANS OF NEW ORLEANS (1976)” edited by Sam Pollard of Spike Lee fame, is considered a classic. It was shown for a full week at the New York Whitney Museum’s “New Filmmakers” Program, and received a favorable review in The New York Times. Dr. Martinez is frequently called upon by Arts and Cultural Centers to present keynote speeches on the sociocultural history of the Black Indians of Mardi Gras. His films include: “TOO WHITE TO BE BLACK, TO BLACK TO BE WHITE: The New Orleans Creole;” “THE QUORUM: ARESSTED FOR INTERRACIAL DRINKING OF A CUP OF COFFEE IN NEW ORLEANS;” “IRENE;” “BLACK FRAULEIN;” “LA VIDA NO ES FACIL (Life is Not Easy);” “COLORED WHITE BOY;” “NO TEACHER LEFT BEHIND;” “WINGS OF WOOD (Creole Woodcarvers);” and a 5 part series titled: MISERICORDS: HIDDEN MIRRORS OF MEDIEVAL LIFE.” In New York City at Hunter College, C.U.N.Y., Dr. Martinez was artistic director for several of the Caribbean Cultural Center’s “Expressions” concerts, including Trumpet Traditions with Wynton Marsalis; Orisha World Conference; Drums of New Orleans featuring Ed Blackwell, Vernel Fournier and Earl Palmer; and Carnival in New York at Lincoln Center. He has published three college textbooks. His study of the cultures and rhythms in Brazil and New Orleans was featured in the annual Tom Dent Congo Square lecture at the Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2001.
During his 19 year tenure at UNCW, he has produced: poetry slams; edited a poetry anthology; directed Spring Happenings that brought together performance artists, musicians, dancers, and studio artists at the Wilmington Azalea Festival; been a supporter of and participant in jazz and blues scenes; and given many workshops on multicultural diversity. In the years 2000 and 2001during Black History Month, Dr. Martinez was the host on National Public Radio, WNPR, of a 15 part program series titled: “North Carolina Blue Notes” that focused upon the lives of famous jazz, blues, and R&B people born in North Carolina, such as John Coltrane, Theloneous Monk, Max Roach, Nina Simone, Nappy Brown, Blind Boy Fuller, Maceo Parker, Sonny Terry, Lou Donaldson, Percy Heath, etc.
Dr. Maurice M. Martinez earned his B.S. at Xavier University of New Orleans, and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In the year 2014, Dr, Martinez celebrated 51 years in the classroom. His teaching experience includes 8 years as a high school mathematics teacher at Carver Senior High School in New Orleans, 24 years at Hunter College, and 19 years at UNCW. He received a Ford Foundation award to undertake two years of research in Brazil in a program titled: “Internships in Latin American Education” administered by the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
His musical CD release (2002), titled Marty Most, Jazz Poet presents: DRUMSCUSSION, features a cross-fertilization of the drum rhythms of Brazil and New Orleans as performed by master drummers: Alfred “Uganda” Roberts, [Professoir Longhair’s conga drummer], Jorge Alabe [master drummer from Brazil], and Charles “Honeyboy” Otis, a legendary drummer from New Orleans who has performed and recorded hits with a long list of R&B performers.
Dr. Martinez is featured as an onscreen narrator in “ALL ON A MARDI GRAS DAY”, a one hour PBS-TV documentary that was aired nationally in February, 2003. The film depicts how Blacks celebrate the New Orleans Carnival.
Dr. Martinez has produced 36 documentary films. His documentary co-produced with Dr. Harriet J. Ottenheimer titled: “THE QUORUM” [60 minutes] won a first place award of “Best Documentary” in the Cape Fear Independent Film Network’s Sometime in October Film Festival, October, 2004. It was nominated for an award at the Independent Black Film Festival in Atlanta, March 3, 2004. It won a 1st place “Best Documentary” award in the CINE NOIR: A Festival of Black Film, March 3-6, 2005.
A screening of the THE QUORUM was hosted by the American Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic, on November 23, 2004. Director Maurice M. Martinez was invited to speak at the screening and received a warm welcome in Prague.
In addition to Director, Dr. Martinez did the camera work, composed and produced the music soundtracks, narrated, co-edited, and co-produced THE QUORUM.
The documentary (2006) titled: “LA VIDA NO ES FÁCIL [Life is Not Easy]” premiered on February 10, 2006, at UNCW. In addition, it had an international premiere in Honolulu, Hawaii on March 14,2006, at the 50th anniversary conference of the Comparative and International Education Society.
In addition, Dr. Martinez contributed film footage about New Orleans Black Culture to Spike Lee’s four hour documentary on Hurricane Katrina titled: “WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE”, premiered on HBO August 21, 22, and 28, 2006.
Dr. Martinez’s documentary in two acts (2006) titled: [running time 84 mins] “TOO WHITE TO BE BLACK, TOO BLACK TO BE WHITE: The New Orleans Creole” was premiered in New Orleans at the LA CREOLE conference on Nov. 4, 2006, had a successful European premiere at the international conference of NAES [National Association for Ethnic Studies] in Istanbul, Turkey, on November 19, 2006. It recently won an award as “BEST DOCUMENTARY” [second place] at the CINE NOIR FILM FESTIVAL on March 17, 2007.
His has two films depicting the lives of bass players, musical legends: Percy Heath of the Modern Jazz Quartet, and Peter “Chuck Badie, New Orleans bassist. He has a work-in-progress honoring the late Kermit Moore, cellist/composer/conductor titled” “UBIQUITY: THE KERMIT MOORE STORY.”