Martha Sutton Grooms

Cultural/Performing Arts

A 1905 graduate of Ravenna High School, and a graduate of Baltimore Normal School, Martha (Sutton) Grooms, the first black female to graduate from Ravenna High School, went on to become a teacher in Baltimore and Cleveland. Martha Grooms credits her mother with having the courage and persistence to send her to school even though it was not popular for blacks to attend school. An avid reader, researcher and genealogist, Martha Grooms wrote the words to the song “Open Those Doors” after a racially-biased job hunting experience with a friend in the ‘50s and at the age of 100 (1985) published her book, Walking In My footsteps. This remarkable woman started to write her book when she was 35 years old. Walking In My Footstepsis a fictionalized memoir of three generations dating back to the chattel slavery days of her grandparents in Virginia and tracing her family roots to the small Ohio town of Berlin Heights and eventually Ravenna. Martha (Sutton) Grooms died March 2, 1988, at the age of 102. Her “Footsteps” portray this special lady as she was, “a strong, down to earth, funny, compassionate, indignant woman” whose own roots are deep in Ravenna.

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