A couple of folks took exception to an op/ed piece I wrote about Martinsville, Indiana Basketball Coach Tim Wolf who was arrested after police said they found him sitting partially naked inside of his car, which was parked near a playground. A 17-year-old girl was also inside of the car. They didn’t argue the points of Wolf’s alleged indiscretion, just that my characterization of Martinsville as a “klan capital” was unfair. Martinsville is sensitive to allegations that it is a hot-bed of racism 30 miles south of Indianapolis.
Steven Stuebner writes for the Southern Poverty Law Center that Diana Griggs, a local African-American internist, would have been the only black person counted by the 1990 census in this little town 30 miles south of Indianapolis — if she had felt safe identifying herself as such on the census form. As it was, she says she was so terrified of harm from racists who might try to track her down that she marked “other.” For decades, this leafy, overwhelmingly white town has been trying to overcome a racist reputation so well established that blacks and others have long avoided the area.
“There are places that are not comfortable for people of color, gays and hippies, and Martinsville has a reputation for drawing that line more sharply than any other town in Indiana,” says James H. Madison, a professor of history at Indiana University and author of A Lynching in the Heartland: Race and Memory in America, published last year. After the long-awaited arrest this spring of a suspect in the racially motivated 1968 stabbing murder of a black woman, many here hoped the town’s racist stigma would be laid to rest. The Martinsville Chamber of Commerce has hired a diversity consultant and its president, Bill Cunningham, recently announced plans to “undertake a county-wide initiative to address what I like to call making everyone feel welcome here.”
But correcting Martinsville’s image problem may be easier said than done. It hasn’t helped that Assistant Police Chief Dennis E. Nail’s outspoken views on gays and religious minorities are more in line with those of a nearby hate group than Martinsville’s more fair-minded citizens. Or that, after he expressed these views in blunt terms to a local newspaper, the city council responded not with a reprimand but with a standing ovation. And it hasn’t helped that a few miles south of town an occasional candidate for public office, Robert J. Farrell, runs the state chapter of a national hate group, the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC). Or that a local church, calling itself a “home for Christian warriors,” promotes Farrell, a version of the anti-Semitic theology of Christian Identity, and the CCC — a group whose Web site recently described blacks as a “retrograde species of humanity.”
It was also bad news when the local high school lost its right to host any sporting events between January 1998 and the fall of 1999 after an angry white mob verbally assaulted black basketball players from Bloomington. (That incident led to the formation of a local diversity club that had grown to 25 members by this May.) “We do confess that there are folks in our community who are prejudiced, even racist,” school superintendent James Auter wrote in an open letter to the community following the basketball incident. “However, many individuals and organizations, including the schools, have been working very hard to obliterate the reputation that we have as a community. We felt that considerable progress was being made.”
A History of Hatred
Like other Indiana towns, Martinsville traces much of its racist legacy to the 1920s, when the Ku Klux Klancontrolled the state Republican Party, held the governor’s office, and dominated the state Legislature. In Martinsville, the Klan held a major rally in the courthouse square in 1923. Today, although the Klan’s power evaporated long ago, there are five Klan chapters in the state, including a unit of the Imperial Klans of Americain nearby Indianapolis. Other active hate groups in the states include racist Skinheads and neo-Nazis, for a total of 13 organizations. The last known public hate group activity in Martinsville was a Klan march and rally in the town square in July 1967, when about 90 cars paraded through town along with robed Klan marchers. But the folks who hung up their robes, along with those who sympathized with them, did not disappear — at least not right away. That much became clear the following year, when Carol Jenkins was slain.
Jenkins was stabbed to death with a screwdriver as she went door to door selling encyclopedias. No one was arrested, but a suspicion grew that the killer was local, and that the police might even have known who did it. Racists were everywhere, recalls Mary Ann Land, a white Martinsville native. “If you weren’t one of them, then you knew someone who was. It might have been a neighbor, or it might have been your grandma, or your uncle Bob.”
Then, in July 1975, a white Martinsville man threatened a 21-year-old black man, DeMorris Smith, who worked as a 4-H counselor at a city park. Holding a sawed-off shotgun, Lowell Clifton spit on the victim and said to him, “If you’re not out of here in 10 minutes, you’re gonna be dead.” Clifton was later convicted of assault and sentenced to one to three years in prison. By the late 1980s, when internist Dianna Griggs took an offer she couldn’t refuse at the local hospital, she was terrified. “Every night I worried that I would wake up to see our house on fire or a burning cross in the back yard.” No crosses were burned, and Griggs says she was accepted in the community. She is now one of nine black adult residents, according to the 2000 census count. Morgan County, of which Martinsville is the county seat, is home to 490 Latinos, a number that has jumped 115% since 1990.
While Griggs and other recent minority arrivals say they feel welcomed in Martinsville, they are sometimes in the position of defending the town to friends who live elsewhere. When the 2000 census came around, Griggs was emboldened to identify herself as black, “for Martinsville’s sake.” Some hoped that the arrest this year of 70-year-old Kenneth Richmond, an Indianapolis man, for the murder of Carol Jenkins would burnish the city’s image by demonstrating that local officials had not protected a murderer. But it did not seem likely that that will be enough to cure Martinsville’s reputation for intolerance, especially after the events that started to unfold here last fall.
‘Hadji Hindu’ and ‘Buddy Buddha’
It began with a letter written last October by Dennis Nail, the assistant police chief, to the editor of the Martinsville Reporter-Times. In the letter, headed “I’m offended,” Nail set out to critique news coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and in the process vented his contempt for ethnic and religious minorities as well as gays.
If some of the major networks can only show sympathy for the enemy, I might suggest they move their studios and equipment to the end of oblivion with the rest of the cave-dwelling rats that opened death’s door to our countrymen on Sept. 11.Offended? I, too, am offended. … It offends me when I have to give up prayer in school. Once again because it might upset Hadji Hindu or Buddy Buddha. I don’t believe the founding fathers were either of these. They were Christian and believed in the one true God of the universe… .
Talk about majority. When I look around and I see no Mosque, or fat bald guys with bowls in their laps. I see churches. I’m offended when I turn on a television show and without fail a queer is in the plot just like it’s a natural thing. America put God in the closet and let the queers out.
When the planes struck the twin towers I never heard anyone utter, ‘Oh Ellen.’ I heard a lot of ‘Oh my God.’ Now we want to pull God off the shelf, rub His head and expect a miracle.
Offended? Well, get over it, because it’s time the dog started wagging the tail. Let’s not be led around by a minority of weirdoes and feel-gooders. I, for one, am tired of it.”
Nail signed the letter as a private citizen, but practically everyone in town knew what his job was. For the next three weeks, a flood of letters to the editor crossed the desk of Reporter-Times Editor Bette Nunn, and she ran them, pro and con. A number of critics called for Nail’s resignation and implored Martinsville Mayor Shannon Buskirk to take action. But city hall was silent. Meanwhile, the letter triggered news articles in the Indianapolis Star and made national news in Newsweek and Time. Eventually, even The New York Times and National Public Radio would make their way to town.
Then Nail addressed a meeting of the local chapter of the CCC hate group, which is headquartered in St. Louis, Mo. A picture of Nail speaking to the group at the Union Christian Church in nearby Paragon was immediately posted on the front page of the Indiana chapter of the CCC’s Web site. Finally, the Martinsville City Council held a public meeting on the issue, two weeks after the letter was printed. About 80 people attended, and 21 testified in support of Nail. Only one person criticized Nail and the city’s handling of the incident. After Nail addressed the council at the conclusion of the meeting, he received a standing ovation. Lynette Liberge, a French teacher at Martinsville High School, was so upset by the mayor’s and city council’s inaction that she helped collect 750 sponsors for a full-page newspaper advertisement that ran under the headline, “We respect and affirm the dignity of all people.”
Extremism and the Mainstream
The extremist views expressed by Nail are not unfamiliar features in the political landscape of Morgan County. During the 1990s, when antigovernment “Patriot” militias were on the rise nationwide, two county commissioners were elected who had ties to militiamen and their ideology. Soon after taking office in 1996, they voted to eradicate the county’s planning and zoning laws — although that move was later rescinded and the two commissioners were tossed out by voters when they ran for reelection in 2000. The current thorn in Martinsville’s side is Robert Farrell, an auto mechanic and one-time member of the Morgan County militia, who now heads the CCC’s Indiana state chapter from his home in Paragon, a few miles south of Martinsville.
He has found an ally in James Brown Jr., pastor of Paragon’s Union Christian Church, where the CCC meeting addressed by the assistant police chief was held. Brown’s church, which describes itself as Morgan County’s “most conservative organization” but insists that it is “not a racist group,” attacks a host of perceived ills on its Web site, including “tyranny, gun control, socialism, atheism [and] multiculturalism.” It promotes a relatively soft version of Christian Identity, saying that whites are the real Hebrews of the Bible and that Jews are “impostors” (other, even harder-line Identity believers describe Jews as the literal descendants of Satan). The church Web page, which touts “racial preservation,” is linked to articles that describe supposed Jewish control of social institutions.
The church’s Web page also says that the real purpose of hate crime and anti-terrorism laws is to “trample down Bible-believing Christians.” For his part, Farrell has been trying to expand his following not only in Morgan County, but in Indiana as a whole. When he hosted the first state meeting of the CCC for the year, 36 people showed up — hardly a large crowd, but 11 more people than belong to the town’s diversity club after several years of operation. So he decided to run for sheriff, his second bid for county office. In May’s Republican primary, Farrell received 3% of the vote, or 244 votes. When he ran for public office the first time, as a candidate for the Morgan County Commission in 1990, he also received just 3% of the vote, which then worked out to 589 votes.
Farrell declined to be interviewed by the Intelligence Report. During this spring’s primary, some citizens, including Chamber President Bill Cunningham, were appalled by material on Farrell’s Web site. “Instead of Farrell’s biographical information and what he planned to do with the office, all we got was this link to his white separatist group,” Cunningham said. Cunningham contacted the officers of the South Central Indiana Community Access Network, SCICAN, who provided candidates Web site links on a Morgan County political page, and asked them to remove Farrell’s CCC site.
Initially, SCICAN President Greg McKelfresh removed the link. But SCICAN Treasurer David Ross, the director of the Morgan County Public Library, argued that Farrell’s First Amendment rights should be upheld if he agreed to place more pertinent information on his Web page about his candidacy for sheriff. “I said if we take down Robert Farrell’s Web page because his views are unpleasant, are we going down a slippery slope?” Ross told the Indianapolis Star. In the end, Farrell added some details to the site and the link to the Morgan County political page was reinstated.
Few experts believe that Robert Farrell or James Brown are likely to gain much more of a following than they already have. But given Martinsville’s history, the city still faces an uphill struggle in convincing the world of its good intentions. “The Dennis Nail incident was the real key,” says Madison, the Indiana University history professor. “Before that happened, I used to tell my students, ‘Let’s not be so quick to judge the people of Martinsville. Let’s give them a chance.’ But the problem wasn’t just Dennis Nail. It was the people in political leadership who didn’t condemn him.” Ultimately, Madison believes the town will have to change. “Martinsville cannot keep the world at bay,” he says. “The world is coming to Martinsville, one way or the other.”
It’s not just this journalist or the Southern Poverty Law Center that sees problems in Martinsville. James Lowen writes for George Mason University that on October 13, 2011, residents of Martinsville, Indiana, put a new twist on the victim role, claiming to have been “Victimized by Folklore.” The occasion was the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Folklore Society, hosted by Indiana University in Bloomington. Joanne Stuttgen, long-time resident and president of the local historic preservation society, moderated a session with the above title. Other Martinsville residents spoke as well. Their point was: Martinsville has not been a racist community; that charge amounts to nothing but folklore, by which they meant falsehood.
Martinsville lies twenty miles north of Bloomington, about halfway to Indianapolis. It used to straddle the four-lane highway that connects the university to the largest single source of its students. It is a city of 12,000. In 1890 the town had 53 African Americans; by 1930 it had four. In the fall of 1943, apple farmers in the county faced a dilemma: hire migrant workers or lose their crops. When a few apple pickers from Jamaica arrived in Martinsville, “local citizens gathered in the town square to protest, only to be dispersed by the news that the state police were on the way,” according to anthropologist Kellie Hogue. By 1970 the black population was down to just one. The 1990 census showed none, but in fact one African American woman did live in Martinsville. According to Stephen Stuebner at the Southern Poverty Law Center, “She was so terrified of harm from racists who might try to track her down that she marked ‘other.’” The 2010 census lists 24 African Americans but does not yet tell how many live in households.
In becoming all-white during the nadir of race relations—that terrible period between 1890 and 1940 when the U.S. went more racist in its ideology than at any other point in our past—Martinsville did nothing unusual. In Sundown Towns, I show that about 70 percent of all towns in neighboring Illinois went sundown by 1940, including the Martinsville in neighboring Illinois. A similar ratio probably obtained in Indiana. By the 1950s, the state had so many sundown towns that folklore in the black community held that whites had developed a secret code: any town or county with a color in its name kept out African Americans. The notion of a code was nonsense, of course, but the evidence seemed to point that way: all these “color-coded” communities in Indiana probably kept out African Americans:
However, so did at least 250 other counties and towns in Indiana. Sundown towns were simply so common that all towns with color in their names happened to be all-white on purpose. Martinsville was a Ku Klux Klan hotbed in the 1920s, but again, so was most of Indiana.
In the late 1950s, Martinsville High School played basketball against Crispus Attucks, Indianapolis’s de jure segregated black high school, without incident. By 1967, however, when Martinsville played Rushville in football and Rushville’s star running back was African American Larry Davis, Martinsville fans were yelling “Get that nigger!” Then, on September 16, 1968, something happened in Martinsville to separate it from the hundreds of other sundown towns in Indiana. On a late summer evening, Carol Jenkins, a 21-year-old African American from Rushville, walked along Morgan Street. She was selling encyclopedias door to door. (1) Unfortunately, the sun was going down. A white supremacist chose to enforce Martinsville’s sundown rule by stabbing her to death with a screwdriver. It was her first evening in the city, so she knew no one; thus no one had any conceivable personal motive for killing her. At about 7:30 pm, she had gone to a house briefly, seeking refuge from a car with two white men in it who had been shouting racial slurs at her. So most people (correctly) assumed the motive to be rage at Jenkins as a black person for being in the city after dark, according to reporter Mark Singer. (2)
In the aftermath of the murder, NAACP leaders and reporters from outside the town levied criticism at the city’s police department, alleging lack of interest in solving the crime. Martinsville residents responded by defining the situation as “us” against “them,” them being outsiders and nonwhites. The community seemed to close ranks behind the murderer and refused to turn him in, whoever he was. ”The town became a clam,” said an Indianapolis newspaper reporter interviewed by Singer. Cognitive dissonance set in: the acts—murder plus apparent cover-up—could not be changed. But attitudes could adjust, to justify those acts. If someone from Martinsville did it and police now seemed to be covering it up, then the whole town seemed involved. Now Martinsville came to see itself not just as a sundown town—it already defined itself as that—but as a community that had united in silence to protect the murderer of a black woman who had innocently violated its sundown taboo. To justify this behavior required still more extreme racism, which in turn prompted additional racist behaviors and thus festered on itself.
Ironically, it turned out that no one from Martinsville murdered Carol Jenkins. On May 8, 2002, police arrested Kenneth Richmond, a 70-year-old who lived nearby but not in Martinsville. His daughter, who had sat in his car and watched while he did it when she was seven, now came forward to give an eyewitness account. Although many people inside as well as outside Martinsville assumed its residents had been sheltering the murderer these 34 years, in fact no one in the town had known who did it. No matter: cognitive dissonance kicked in anyway. This is the notion that most people alter their opinions to match their actions. In Martinsville, because everyone thought the community had closed ranks in defense of the murderer, some residents justified such acts by concluding that keeping out African Americans was right. Additional acts of racism in the aftermath seemed appropriate.
During the years after Jenkins’s murder, gas stations in Martinsville repeatedly refused to sell gasoline to African American customers, at least as late as 1986. As racist as Mississippi was during the civil rights struggle, I lived there then for eight years and never heard of a town or even an individual station that would not sell gasoline to African Americans. To refuse to sell fuel to a person whom you want out of town seems particularly irrational, when fuel is precisely what they need to get out of town. Of course, most motorists do have enough gas to make it to the next town, and they will carry with them the message: avoid Martinsville at all costs.
In the 1990s, fans and students in Martinsville intensified their harassment of visiting athletic teams that had black players. In 1998, that tradition won Martinsville an article, “Martinsville’s Sad Season,” in Sports Illustrated: “On January 23, as Bloomington High North’s racially mixed team got off the bus upon arriving for a game at Martinsville, about a dozen Martinsville students greeted the visitors with a barrage of racial epithets.” Students shouted things like “Here come the darkies.” The Sports Illustrated account continues:
During the junior varsity game several Bloomington players were bitten by Martinsville players. During the varsity game a member of Martinsville’s all-white team elbowed a black North player in the stomach so fiercely that the player began vomiting. As he was doubled over on the sidelines, a fan yelled, “That nigger’s spitting on the floor! Get his ass off the floor.” According to a report that Bloomington North filed with the Indiana High School Athletics Association, epithets like “baboon” and threats such as “You’re not safe in this town” continued after the game, which Martinsville won 69-66. ”It wasn’t just nasty,” says one Bloomington North fan, an adult who was in attendance, “it was downright scary.”
As a result, Martinsville was told it could not host a conference game in any sport for a year. ”This wasn’t the first time that charges of racist behavior were leveled against one of Martinsville’s teams,” the story made clear. ”In the last year at least two high schools in central Indiana have dropped the Artesians from their schedules after games were marred by brawls and racial slurs. School administrators in Martinsville … were unwilling to discuss the incident or its aftermath.” After the attacks of 9/11/2001, the town’s assistant police chief spoke out against gays, Hindus, and Buddhists. Instead of a reprimand, he won a standing ovation at the next city council meeting. Real estate agents played a major role. Not only did they keep out blacks, they also screened out the “wrong kind” of whites. In about 1995, an agent was showing a white couple homes in Martinsville. In the words of the wife:
We spent an evening driving around the village, which seemed very nice, and found a beautiful house that we decided to call on. I made arrangements with the real-estate lady to view the house… The house seemed nice, as was the agent… When the tour was complete, she told me I was more than welcome to call her with any questions or concerns and gave me her business card. When I took out my wallet to put away her card, my picture fold fell out onto the bar and opened up to a portrait of some very good friends—good friends who happen to be engaged and Japanese and African American. She looked at the photo, put her finger on the very corner of the picture and turned it slowly toward her, like it could jump up and bite her if she made any sudden movements! She said to me: “Oh, you associate with those kind of people?”
All these actions gave Martinsville a particularly scary reputation among African Americans. According to Professor Alan Boehm in 2002, who had attended Indiana University in the 1970s, Indianapolis’s large black middle class got the state to build a by-pass around Martinsville, “because they did not want their children put in harm’s way when they drove between home and the university.” Not everyone in Martinsville was or is racist, of course. John Wooden grew up in the city and went on to coach a host of black players at UCLA, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. From all reports he got along well with everyone; certainly he won more NCAA games than anyone else in the history of men’s basketball. Some Martinsville churches have developed relationships with black congregations in Indianapolis. In 2007, I met with members of Martinsville PRIDE, which formed after the Sports Illustrated story, including some of the people who spoke at the folklore session. They came from two different positions. Some of them did not want Martinsville to be a sundown town and looked for ways to bring that about.
More than half, however, did not want Martinsville to be known as a sundown town. The difference is important. Moderator Joanne Stuttgen claimed that folklore victimized her and her fellow panel members “on a daily basis.” This notion is in accord with the wish not to be known as a sundown town. As a result of this mindset, in 2007, I could not arouse much enthusiasm for the idea that Martinsville might take the three steps necessary to stop being a sundown town. These steps would also of course cause it to stop being known as a sundown town. They are:
1. Admit it. “We did this.”
2. Apologize. “We did this, and it was wrong, and we’re sorry.”
3. And state, “and we don’t do it any more.” [And that last step requires teeth: We now have a Racial Ombudsperson, or a Civil Rights Council, and we are hiring teachers and maintenance workers affirmatively, and housing them in Martinsville, and ....]
In 2007, Martinsville PRIDE members did not think they could get the city leadership even to consider step #1!
In 2011, their presentation at the American Folklore Society shows that this viewpoint still prevails. Residents voiced their anger that Martinsville is the subject of “widespread folklore” that labels the community “racist” and “the headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan.” Of course, to be upset by that reputation is understandable. The reputation not only causes African Americans to avoid Martinsville, it prompts the Klan to continue recruiting there. It also causes economic stagnation. Earl Woodard, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, complained in 1989 that owing to “its bad image,” Martinsville “hasn’t nabbed a single one” of the industrial facilities that “rained down on central Indiana” in the 1980s.
At the Folklore session, Stuttgen claimed that outsiders have been “fooled by folklore” and that Martinsville never had a sundown sign or exclusionary policies. But to claim that their reputation is all “folklore,” by which Martinsville residents meant “untrue,” is itself untrue. Indeed, Martinsville PRIDE knows better: some of its members have been ostracized simply for their membership in PRIDE. Bloomington journalist Jeff Harlig, who has closely followed Martinsville for years, points out that even white people not born in the town “are never fully accepted as citizens of Martinsville, no matter how long they live there.” Nonwhites by definition were not born in the town, so they bear a double stigma. A resident of a nearby town told me in 2007,
When our middle child (who is African American) was a baby, I was invited to a party there. My husband was out of town and the hosts (who grew up in Martinsville) suggested that I may not want to come down without him.
Thus Martinsville residents know that their town can still be uncomfortable, even unsafe, for minorities. It’s not just “folklore.” Facing its past honestly would require residents to admit that even though Carol Jenkins’s killer did not live in Martinsville, the town’s sundown policy legitimized his act in his own eyes, thus empowering his hatred. Instead, Martinsville consigns the sundown policy to folklore, which they misdefine. The American Folklore Society lists at least ten different useful definitions of “folklore” at its website. None is “untrue.” It is unfortunate that the Hoosier Folklore Society sponsored this session, thus legitimizing the panel’s misuse of an important term.
People at the session came up with various steps that Martinsville might take to counter its reputation. One person suggested putting up billboards showing people of different races saying “Martinsville Welcomes Everyone.” Another audience member suggested that Martinsville open an Indiana Civil Rights Museum, since Indiana seems not to have one. She saw it as a way to use Martinsville’s negative history in a positive way; it might also draw visitors and business to Martinsville. Another mentioned that Martinsville might officially declare itself a “refugee city,” which might draw a new and diverse population quickly. Somehow, the Martinsville residents found reasons to reject every idea offered by the non-Martinsville attendees, according to my source who sat in on the session. Ironically, one concern was that airing race relations issues in public in Martinsville might lead to flaming discussions on the web. Then use of racial slurs and other abusive comments by discussants would only cause Martinsville again to look racist in the eyes of the world. The panel seemed oblivious to the obvious: their worry about the likelihood of such comments was itself evidence that Martinsville had not wholly outgrown its sundown past.
“Folklore” does not mean “falsehood.” Nor has folklore victimized Martinsville. History—solidly researched, based on good interviews with a variety of important actors and on documents where available—shows that Martinsville earned its notoriety in so-called “Hoosier folklore.” Residents of Martinsville do have one point: it is true that hundreds of other communities in Indiana have been equally unwelcoming to African Americans while keeping their racism under the radar of journalists and historians. Indeed, a resident of another Indiana sundown town once denounced Martinsville’s racism to me until I asked if she had done anything to end the purposeful all-white nature of her own community. Nevertheless, Martinsville’s notoriety does not mean that journalists and historians have been unfair to the town. Rather, they have not yet done a competent job uncovering many other towns with similar practices.
Some of these communities in Indiana are moving on. For example, the mayor of Bluffton, formerly a sundown town, enrolled his town in the “Inclusive Communities” program of the National League of Cities. Elwood boasted sundown signs at its corporate limits in the 1930s, took them down when Republicans symbolically nominated native son Wendell Wilkie for president there in 1940, and then put them right back up. Elwood is also moving on. Several years ago, its mayor proclaimed Martin Luther King Day and led a commemorative parade. Knowing his town’s history (not folklore), he posted SWAT teams on rooftops, but there was no problem; the observance has become annual. Martinsville might usefully take either of those steps, in addition to the three-step program. That would be more promising than residents’ presentation to the American Folklore Society. When historians confirm a sundown town, they encourage it at least to take the first step toward getting past their racism: admission. Blaming “folklore” for “victimizing” a community takes a step in precisely the opposite direction.
At the very least, perception is reality and Martinsville has a problem. Blaming the media, reporters and authors for recounting actual events is not the solution but it seems the consensus in Martinsville is to blame outside entities for its problems, actual or perceived.