Though born in Atlanta, Martin grew up in Davidson, NC, where his father served as president of Davidson College. Martin attended Davidson College where he played on the basketball team for Lefty Driesell. After graduating, he was commissioned in the US Army. Following completion of Airborne School, Martin served in the U.S. Army’s Special Forces. After leaving active duty, Martin graduated from Yale Law School and then entered the practice of law in Charlotte, NC.
In 1984 and 1986, Martin narrowly lost two races for Congress to Alex McMillan. He later served as both the Secretary and a Vice-President for the University of North Carolina system. In 1998, he ran for the U.S. Senate, finishing second to John Edwards in the Democratic primary. After that race, Martin took on interim leadership positions at N.C. Central University, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, The Trust for Public Land, and the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund.
Martin writes a weekly column that appears in newspapers across North Carolina. Since 1999, Martin has hosted “North Carolina Bookwatch,” a literary television show on UNC-TV, North Carolina’s public television network. He is married and has two adult children.