Betita Martínez

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Betita Martínez

Elizabeth (Betita) Martinez...

Betita Martinez is the Director of the Institute for MultiRacial Justice in San Francisco.

Martinez has received numerous awards for her "social justice" work. In 2005 she was a nominee for the 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize. Martinez lives in San Francisco where she continues to write, lecture, edit and teach.

After a brief first marriage, Martinez married Hans Koning, author of 40 fiction and non-fiction books. In 1954 they had a daughter, Tessa, before divorcing.

Early life

Elizabeth (Betita) Martinez was born December 12, 1925, to a Mexican-born father and a white Euro-American mother. She grew up in Washington, D.C.[1]

During World War II, Martinez attended Swarthmore College-the only non-white student on campus. After graduation in 1946, she worked United Nations, researching decolonization efforts and strategies. In the late 1950s she became an editor at Simon & Schuster and later Books and Arts Editor of The Nation magazine.

Early activism

Martinez became active in the U.S. civil rights movement, directing the New York office of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and joining in SNCC's Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964.

From 1968 to 1976, Martinez lived in New Mexico, becoming founding editor of El Grito del Norte (The Cry of the North), a monthly community newspaper that linked the Chicano land movement to similar struggles around the world. She also served as founding director of the Chicano Communications Center in Albuquerque.

In 1976 Martinez moved to California, joining the Democratic Workers Party, a women led Marxist group, also becoming involved in Central American solidarity work

In 1982 Martinez ran for Governor of California on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. She taught ethnic and women's studies on several campuses and traveled extensively to observe efforts to create socialist societies- including to China, the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Hungary, and Poland. Beginning in 1959, Martinez made several trips to Cuba.[2]

In 1959, three months after the Cuban Revolution claimed victory, Martinez went to Cuba to witness a successful anti-colonial, socialist struggle. This trip to Cuba had a profound impact on her.
In addition to Cuba, Martinez later traveled to the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, Vietnam (during the war) and China to witness and observe how people were implementing socialism.

In 1997 Martinez co-founded the Institute for Multiracial Justice which promotes alliances among "communities of color". She also edited the Institute's newsletter, Shades of Power.

Guatemala book

Susanne Jonas the author of "The Battle for Guatemala: Rebels, Death Squads, and U.S. Power" (Westview Press, 1991) thanks Elizabeth Martinez...Jon Frappier, "who first introduced me to Guatemala in 1967..." Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Richard Adams, Jorge Castafieda and Barbara Epstein ".... for their help with the book".

Key CrossRoads supporters

Among the more illustrious supporters of CrossRoads were Gil Green, Harry Hay, Elizabeth Martinez, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, David McReynolds, Muhammed Ahmad [Max Stanford] and Peter Camejo.[3]

CoC National Conference endorser

In 1992 Betita Martinez, endorsed the Committees of Correspondence national conference Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s held at Berkeley California July 17-19.[4]

Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s

The Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s was the Committees of Correspondence's first national conference held in Berkeley, California July 17-19, 1992.[5]

Plenary speakers were ;[6]

CoC National Coordinating Committee

The following are listed in order of votes they received as members of the Committees of Correspondence National Coordinating Committee, elected at the Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s held at Berkeley California July 17-19.:[6]

Center for Political Education

In 1999, Betita Martinez of the Institute for Multi-Racial Justice; and Jason Feirrera, a graduate in Ethnic Studies of the University of California Berkeley, spoke at a forum entitled "May Day: The Salt of the Earth, A Film Showing and Discussion." The talk was sponsored by the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism linked organization, the Center for Political Education.[7]

In 2001 Betita Martínez was the speaker at a talk entitled: "May Day: The Salt of the Earth, A Film Showing and Discussion" The classes were held at the San Francisco based Center for Political Education.[7]

In 2003, a panel of speakers Betita Martinez, Susan Atwood, Guiliana Milanese, Malik Miah and Warren Mar spoke in a discussion entitled: "The Socialist Left of the 70’s and 80’s: What Worked, What Didn’t." This discussion was moderated by Steve Williams and Michelle Foy. The event was held at the San Francisco based Center for Political Education.[7]

In 2004 Lamoin Werlein-Jaen, Roger White, Elder Freemen, and Betita Martinez gave talks entitled: "Fascism three-part series: What’s goin’ on in 2004? What Dangers do we Face?" The talks were held at the San Francisco based Center for Political Education.[7]

In 2005 Betita Martínez, David Solnit and Chris Carlson gave talks entitled: "Globalize Liberation", a discussion of the movements highlighted in the book "Globalize Liberation". The classes were held at the San Francisco based Center for Political Education.[7]

Opposing the "War on Terror"

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 supporters of STORM and the Bay Area Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism established Ad Hoc Committee 'On Poitical Strategy' to fight against Bush's war against terrorism.[8]

The committee included Betita Martinez, Cindy Wiesner, Max Elbaum, Edget Betru, Harmony Goldberg, Clarissa Rojas, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, John Trinkl, Hany Khalil and Bob Wing.

The group issued an October 5, 2001 statement to other activists;

As we immersed ourselves in the fightback to Bush's war against terrorism, we felt the need to get our political bearings as leftists. So we organized a discussion attended by 27 diverse left activists in the San Francisco Bay Area on Sept. 30.
September 11, and the Bush administration's reaction to it, is a defining historical moment, ushering in a new and dangerous period in international politics. Washington's agenda is to entrench the national security state and a new level of international dominance on the basis of a permanent war on terrorism--bringing the "new world order" to fruition.
The defining political axis of this new period is Washington's international war on terrorism--and the fight against it...The political and ideological balance of forces, demands, and outcomes of all struggles will be affected by this central issue, to one degree or another.
Given this, the fight for peace should be the central demand for the people's movements...However, peace is not a centrist, liberal demand, but in fact is central to an anti-imperialist agenda. Its main content is that of staying the hand of imperialist war and fighting U.S. militarism in all its forms.

War Times

January 2002, a group of San Francisco leftists, mainly former Maoists or involved with STORM or Committees of Correspondence, founded a national anti-Iraq War newspaper War Times.[9]

The pilot issue of War Times, a new biweekly newspaper opposing the "war on terrorism," will roll off the press on February 14... Featuring an exclusive interview with Danny Glover and a letter to President Bush from Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, the premier of this bilingual, free publication will be distributed in several dozen cities across the country.

Serving on the War Times Organizing Committee were;

2002 Committees of Correspondence National Convention

At the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, National Conference and Convention, July 25-28, 2002 San Francisco State University, Martinez spoke Racism and Its Impact on Nationalities in the USA………………………………………..[10]

Beyond Chicanismo

Colorado based Beyond Chicanismo ran a Conscious Journey speakers series, mainly featuring veterans of Colorado's Chicano/a movement. But it has also included figures from the Puerto Rican, Black and Chicano/a freedom movements, and Anglo radicals from outside the state including Max Elbaum and Betita Martinez.

Beyond Chicanismo launched a Women of Principle Speaker Series in February 2003. Participants have included Georgia Congress-woman Cynthia McKinney, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and locally based Dr. Mary Lou Salazar, daughter of the former head of Colorado's Communist Party, Robert Trujillo.[11]

Sacramento Marxist School

On Apr 19 2001 Elizabeth Martinez lectured at the Sacramento Marxist School on The Quest for Unity Among People of Color.[12]

War Times Staff

In 2009 voluntary War Times staffincluded:[13]

Jan Adams, Karolo Aparicio, Mariana Bustamante, Ruth Warner Carrillo, Jung Hee Choi, Max Elbaum, Arnoldo Garcia, Rebecca Gordon, Felicia Gustin, Hany Khalil, Rachel Kahn, Lynn Koh, Gerald Lenoir, Burton Li, Betita Martinez, Samuel Orozco, Ricardo Ortega, Sushawn Robb, Kerry Taylor and Bob Wing.

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

Betita Martinez serves on the Advisory Board of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.[14]

Committee to Celebrate the Life of Luis Miranda Rivas

In 2009 Jeanne Mirer was a member of the Committee to Celebrate the Life of Luis Miranda Rivas.[15]

Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign

In 2012 Betita Martínez served on the Board of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign.[16]


Martinez's publications include The Movement (1963) and Letters from Mississippi (1965; reissued 2002), and De Colores Means All of Us: Latina Views for a Multi-Colored Century (1998). Her bilingual book Five Hundred Years of Chicano History, first issued in 1976 as 450 Years of Chicano History, is in its sixth edition. She is completing another bilingual book, Five Hundred Years of Chicana History, a pictorial survey [published 2008]. She is a frequent contributor to anthologies, including The Feminist Memoir Project, and to Z Magazine and other progressive magazines

Chicano movement

The 40th Anniversary Commemoration Committee of the Chicano Moratoriums was formed in the summer 2009 by the Chair of the National Chicano Moratorium Committee of August 29, 1970 along with two independent Chicano Movement historians whom although not of the baby boomer generation, have become inspired by the Movimiento. The organization posted a list of significant “Chicano movement” activists on its website which included Betita Martínez, of El Grito Del Norte.[17]