LEESBURG, Va. (AP) — Roland Martin is a Texan at heart, and although his work has brought him to the nation’s capital, he misses his home state’s broad expanses.
Until recently, the 45-year-old host of “News One Now,” a national daily news radio show, and his wife, Jacquie Hood Martin, lived off Foxhall Road in the District of Columbia. They loved their house, but Martin felt claustrophobic. Washington was far too cramped for the former CNN political analyst, too confining.
As their family expanded, they decided to look for a roomier house. That’s when they discovered a hint of Texas in the northern Virginia suburbs. In June, the Martins bought an 8,400-square-foot dwelling on 4 1/2 acres in the Beacon Hill community of Leesburg.
“Let’s be clear: I live here, but I’m from Houston,” Martin said. “This is the closest I feel to being back home in Texas.”
The move to Leesburg was prompted by the arrival of four of Martin’s nieces. Two of his other nieces had been living with the couple at their district home. When the four others arrived, it was time to look for a new place. Roland and Jacquie are helping to raise Lani, 16; Mykayla, 14; cousins Ana and Chelsea, 13; and twins Rachel and Raquel, 9.
“This is the fifth time we’ve raised this group of nieces at different junctures since they were all born,” Martin said.
The Martins first looked in Prince George’s County, Md., because Martin wanted to be near Woodmore country club, where he is a member. An avid golfer, he has been playing for 26 years and has an 8.1 handicap. But even though his new home is far from his home course, the backyard is spacious enough for him to work on his game.
“I can hit lob wedges back there,” he said.
As passionate as he is about golf, space was even more of a priority for him. He yearned for the openness of his home state. The Leesburg property offered it.
“Being born and raised in Texas, I value space,” he said. “I absolutely value space.”
Just as important as a generously sized house was the land around it. The backyard is more than just a place for Martin to lower his handicap. The woods that abut the property attract a variety of wildlife including deer, otters, beavers and vultures. It has been a living laboratory for the girls, who are home-schooled by three graduate students from Howard University in Washington.
“They did a lesson about Audubon and they were recognizing types of birds,” Jacquie said. “It’s been a very healthy environment for them to be in.”
It’s not all work and no play for the girls. Outdoor entertainment centers around the in-ground pool with its waterfall and hot tub.
The Martins are avid collectors of African-American art and their home reflects their taste. Works by Ted Ellis, Leroy Campbell and Kevin Williams that are in turns poignant, beautiful and powerful grace the walls.
Williams’s “The Worst Sight … Generations Lost,” a painting of a woman with tears running down her face and slave ships reflected in her eyes, hangs in the foyer next to a dramatic staircase that rises gracefully to the second floor. Campbell’s depiction of the Little Rock Nine hangs in the upstairs family room.
Martin’s most treasured piece is from the set of “Washington Watch,” which he hosted for four years. It is a painting of an American flag with great moments in black history depicted against the stripes. Each of the 50 stars is a face of a prominent African-American. It hangs in the dining room.
“I love it because it absolutely represents my entire career, in that I’ve spent more years in black media than I have mainstream media and I’m a huge history buff, especially black history and civil rights,” Martin said. “When Jacquie and I were looking at it, I think out of the 50 stars there are only two people I can’t name. It is killing me that I can’t name those two, but I’m going to find out who those two are.”
Although they are still settling into their new home, the Martins have made it their own. There is a Houston Texans flag flying by the front door and a Texas A&M doormat. Martin is a proud Aggies alum. He hasn’t had time to hang his flags for the Houston Rockets or the Houston Astros.
The Martins also have incorporated some of the touches left by the previous owners of the 12-year-old house. A treble clef door-knocker remains because of the family’s love of music. (One of the previous owners was a music professor at George Mason University in Fairfax.) A collage of movie posters outside the home theater stayed. Jacquie is especially fond of the array, having worked in a movie theater when she was young. They kept the speakeasy mural behind the downstairs bar as well because it is fun.
It’s a busy household. Martin leaves the house every morning around 5 a.m. to drive to the TV One studios on North Capitol Street in Washington. His radio show, which began last month, is simulcast for one of its three hours on the cable network. The morning show focuses on politics, entertainment and culture from an African-American perspective. He also does a segment on the Tom Joyner show three days a week and writes a syndicated column.
Jacquie is a Christian life skills coach, author and ordained minister and is working on her doctorate. She also does a weekly radio show. Each day, the three tutors arrive to work with the girls on their lessons.
With as many as 11 people in the house at any given time, it can become a bit chaotic, which is why Jacquie made sure to set aside a place where anyone in the family can go to find peace. Located downstairs next to the exercise area in a soundproof room, the prayer room was designed by Jacquie with low lighting and soothing colors of golds and browns.
“I think that’s one of the spaces that best reflects the essence of who I am,” she said. “It’s very contemplative. … We are definitely people of faith and believe that prayer pretty much is the cornerstone of everything we do and achieve.”
Martin is questioned often about why he chose to move from his Northwest Washington home to Leesburg. Having grown up in Texas, driving long distances is second nature to him. In fact, he much prefers the commute he has now to the one he had living in the district.
“A lot of people go, ‘Oh my God, Roland, you live waaaaayyy out there in Leesburg,'” he said. “A drive is nothing to me. I’m used to it.”
Information from: The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com