After graduating from Pennsylvania State University in 1984 with a BA in international politics, Kevin Martin in ’85 took a job as a door-to-door canvasser for Peace Action (then called Sane/Freeze) in Washington, DC. He soon became director of that organization’s community outreach program, and from 1989-99 he worked in Chicago as executive director of Illinois Peace Action. After two years as director of Project Abolition (August 1999 to August 2001), Martin became executive director of Peace Action’s national organization on September 4, 2001 and has held that post ever since. During the first decade of the 21st century, Martin also spent some time as a United for Peace and Justice steering committee member and a Peace Majority Report editor/advisory board member.
Condemning America as the nation that most egregiously “enable[s] the killing” that occurs in military conflicts across the globe, Martin charges that “Uncle Sam, as the world’s number-one weapons dealer, has armed one or more sides in nearly every war worldwide.” “The United States needs to end its shameful status as arms merchant to the world,” he adds.
In October 2001, Peace Action stated publicly that the U.S. should respond to the then-recent 9/11 attacks through criminal-justice channels rather than militarily. “A great nation does not punish the innocent to assuage its anguish,” said Martin.
In July 2002, some 200 activists who opposed a U.S. military strike against Iraq gathered at Peace Action’s 15th annual national congress and vowed to campaign for “justice not war.” At the rally, Martin complained about the George W. Bush administration’s “cynical use of September 11” to “push [its] pre-existing agendas.” He also stated that Peace Action had received a $15,000 grant from the Barbra Streisand Foundation to place ads in the Washington, DC metro area.
On March 29, 2004, Martin issued a statement on behalf of Peace Action urging voters to help defeat President Bush in the upcoming November election. Asserting that Bush “has pushed this country and the world towards a cataclysm rather than towards safety,” Martin stated that the president “has been so harmful to progress on the issues of nuclear disarmament, international cooperation, the arms trade and the elimination of war as a means of resolving international conflict, that this country and the world cannot risk another four years of his failed leadership.”
In August 2010, Martin went to Japan to help commemorate the 65th anniversary of what he viewed as the horrific American decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. The gathering was sponsored by the Japanese peace group Gensuikin, which invited Martin to attend and covered all of his travel expenses. This was one of three trips Martin has made to Hiroshima.
In October 2011, Martin appeared at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Kansas City to give a speech entitled, “Endless War, Endless Costs, Endless Nuclear Weapons: The Crying Need to Change America’s Flawed Military and Economic Priorities.”
On December 8, 2011, Martin was a signatory—along with the leaders of numerous other anti-war and anti-military organizations—to a letter praising Congress for its recent “principled call for reducing the amount of money that our country spends on nuclear weapons and related programs.”
In February 2016 Martin said that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a self-identified socialist, “best represents the values that Peace Action and its 200,000 supporters have espoused.”
In April 2016 Martin revisited the theme of America’s atomic attacks on Japan when he urged Barack Obama—whom he described as “the U.S. president most personally committed to achieving global nuclear weapons elimination since John Kennedy”—to visit Hiroshima and “announce concrete steps toward” the realization of that goal (disarmament). Those steps, said Martin, should include:
For a number of years, Martin has administered and written a Peace Blog on anti-war, anti-military themes.