Betita Martínez

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Betita Martínez

Elizabeth (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.

Martinez was one of two Latinas in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee working to build grassroots power in working class Southern Black communities in the 1960s Civil Rights movement. She worked in New Mexico from 1968–1976 in the Chicano Power movement and edited a movement newspaper. An antiracist, social justice activist for forty years, she has published many articles and six books on liberation struggles in Las Americas including 500 Years of Chicano History and De Colores Means All of Us. Martinez worked in the feminist movement and prioritized alliance building between communities of color.

A cofounder and currently director of the Institute for MultiRacial Justice in San Francisco, she lectures widely in the United States and is an adjunct professor at California State University, Hayward. Martinez and the Institute support younger generation organizers of color to build multiracial alliances.[1]

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.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5]

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.[6]

Plenary speakers were ;[7]

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.:[7]

1993 NCIPA National Steering Committee

As of Spring 1993, the National Committee for Independent Political Action Steering Committee included Betita Martinez .

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.[8]

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.[8]

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.[8]

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.[8]

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.[8]

Catalyst Project

From 1993 to 1998 Challenging White Supremacy led two 15-week-long sessions a year in the Bay Area, working with hundreds of social justice activists. Shortly after the mass actions in Seattle that rocked the WTO, Elizabeth Martinez encouraged Sharon to develop political education specifically to work with the growing Global Justice movement. Sharon recruited younger generation left/radical anti-racists to build a new phase of CWS called ‘Anti-Racism for Global Justice’. While continuing to run the 15-week workshop series, the new project that became Catalyst quickly developed into a national training program. Over the next 5 years over 5000 participants from local groups and national networks went through Catalyst trainings. Catalyst developed through intergenerational mentorship and a commitment to non-sectarian left/radical movement building. Intergeneration mentorship has been a process by which we have connected to the lived history of social movements before us to draw lessons and inspiration for our work. In addition to sharing insights, movement veterans have been mentors supporting us to reflect on and draw lessons from our work. They have helped us to believe in ourselves, while also providing long-term perspective. Through such mentorship and our own political practice, we developed our commitment to a non-sectarian movement building framework committed to bringing forward the best of many left/radical traditions. We are committed to a praxis-based approach to political education and organizing. Sharon Martinas, Elizabeth Martinez, Paul Kivel, Nisha Anand and our other advisers supported us – Clare Bayard, Ingrid Chapman, Ari Clemenzi, Chris Crass, Amie Fishman, Kerry Levenberg, Missy Longshore, Molly McClure, Betty-Jeane Ruters-Ward, Alia Trindle, Becca Tumposky, Josh Warren-White.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11]

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………………………………………..[12]

RadFest 2003

Friday, May 30 2003, at RadFest 2003, "The Iraq War and the Anti-War Movement", Aurora University.

Max Elbaum will speak at the opening plenary panel along with Betita Martínez (Institute for Multiracial Justice), Rania Masri (Iraq Action Coalition), and Jeremy Scahill (Democracy Now).

The plenary is part of RadFest 2003, an annual weekend conference for progressive activists and academics organized by the A. E. Havens Center for the Study of Social Structure and Social Change at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The central goal of the conference is to provide an opportunity for progressive activists, organizers, and intellectuals to come together to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern, strengthen networks, and devise strategies for progressive social, economic, and political change.[13]

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.[14]

Sacramento Marxist School

On Apr 19 2001 Elizabeth Martinez lectured at the Sacramento Marxist School on The Quest for Unity Among People of Color.[15]

Oakland panel

Fullpanel ca.jpg

On December 4, 2005 Brooke Anderson arrived at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, just a few blocks away from her new home in Oakland, California, to see Barry Romo on a panel convened by AK Press and KPFA. Having recently moved from Champaign, Illinois and missing my friends, I reveled in the idea of Barry and VVAW coming to Oakland, even if only for the evening.

The panel was called "The Future of Struggle: Movement Veterans Discuss Yesterday's Lessons for Today." The idea was to have key figures from various radical movements discuss lessons learned over the last four decades of organizing, how these lessons could be applied to work being done today, and how to move forward.

In addition to Barry Romo, the panel featured Kathleen Cleaver (Black Panther Party), Russell Means (American Indian Movement), Mike James (Students for a Democratic Society and Rising Up Angry), Elizabeth Martinez (Chicana activist and author), Ward Churchill (American Indian Movement), Bo Brown (George Jackson Brigade) and a former member of I Wor Kuen. [16]


A benefit to distribute "Horizontalism: Popular Power in Argentina" to social movements in Argentina and Latin America**

Tuesday May 31, 2005: AK Press

An evening of ideas and inspiration with Marina Sitrin, Betita Martinez, Patrick Reinsborough, Ramsey Kanaan, Rachel Neumann, Chris Crass, Jennifer Whitney, and David Solnit.

674-A 23rd. St, Oakland. [17]

For May Day and Beyond: White People Step up for Immigrant Rights!

From a May 2006 letter;

In the past month, five million people, mostly immigrants of color, have mobilized for justice and are making history, flooding the streets in unprecedented numbers. Meanwhile, the most visible participation by white people is coming from the racist and right wing leaders who are defining and dominating the debate in the Federal government and in the news, radio and opinion pages. Where are the voices of anti-racist white people in this crucial moment, when the worst anti-immigrant legislation in decades is still poised to drop?
We, white people who believe in justice and ending racism, have a responsibility and a historic opportunity to stand with immigrant communities and unite behind their demands. As white people, most of us with U.S. citizenship, we call out to our white communities to take to the streets for immigrant rights. We must demonstrate that the rightwing racists, from the Minutemen to in the Congress, do not represent us!
If you agree with these principles, we invite you to sign this letter and make your signature a commitment to putting them into action in your work and life.
In struggle,

Catalyst Project and the Heads Up Collective

Endorsed by: Carlos Munoz, Jr., professor, UC Berkeley, Betita Martinez, Institute for Multiracial Justice, Maria Poblet, St Peters Housing Committee, Eric Mar, Eunice Cho, Sheila Chung, Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition, Renee Saucedo, Day Labor Program/La Raza Centro Legal, Kali Akuno, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Jose Palafox, professor, Stanford University, Phil Hutchings, Institute for Multiracial Justice.[18]

War Times Staff

In 2009 voluntary War Times staffincluded:[19]

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.[20]

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.[21]

Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign

In 2012 Betita Martínez served on the Board of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign.[22]

Praise for "The Cost of Privilege"

The Cost of Privilege" an anti-racist book was written by North Carolina Freedom Road Socialist Organization member Chip Smith.

Several people, mostly Freedom Road Socialist Organization members wrote advance "praise blurbs" for the book's website .

Chip Smith has given us a powerful weapon for the battle against white supremacy. It combines an in-depth look at the long history of this profoundly rooted plague with an enlightening, up-do-date review of the many efforts to end it. We have here much more than a brilliant analysis of past and present, the author dares to outline a bold program of revolutionary action that lays out both the challenges to be faced and how to confront them. Who could ask for more?

Betita Martínez, Chicana author, activist and director of the Institute for MultiRacial Justice.[23]

Catalyst advisory board

Catalyst Project advisory board as of 2015;[24]

"Towards Collective Liberation" editorial crew

Chris Crass', 2013 book " was "Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy..." was edited by a team consisting of Chris and Molly, Rahula Janowski Lydia Pelot-Hobbs, Nisha Anand, Sasha Vodnik, Cile Beatty, Danni Marilyn West, Amie Fishman, Jeff Giaquinto , Sharon Martinas, Gabriel Sayegh, Clare Bayard, Z. Lula Haukeness, Cindy Breunig, Jardana Peacock, Betty-Jeane Ruters-Ward, Betita Martinez, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Paul Kivel, Ingrid Chapman, Dan Berger, Josh Warren-White, Rachel Luft, Kerry Levenberg, Johnna Bossuot, Leah Jo Carnine, Berkley Carnine, Leah Close, Vivian Sanati, Dara Silverman, Helen Luu, Pauline Hwang Nrinder, N.K. Nann, Marc Mascarenhas-Swan, Max Elbaum, Keith McHenry, James Tracy, Alice Nuccio, Laura McNeill, Azedeh Ghafari, J.C. Callender, Nilou Mostoufi, April Sullivan-FitzHugh, Michelle O'Brien, Joe Tolbert, Tufara Waller Muhammad, Karly Safar, Jayanni Webster, Joshua Kahn Russell, prof. Laura Head, Andrew Cornell, Harjir Singh Gill, Emily Thuma, Rami Elamine, Chanelle Gallant, Charlie Frederick, Amar Shah, Alicia Garza, Elandria Williams, Carla Wallace, Ernesto Aguilar, Lisa Albrecht.[25]


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.[26]


Template:Reflist Template:Endorsers of the Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s

  1. CP advisors, accessed November 2015
  4. Re: [Marxism Line of March from [Ethan Young]Date, Wed, 15 Sep 2010]
  5. CCDS Background
  6. Conference program
  7. 7.0 7.1 Proceedings of the Committees of Correspondence Conference: Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the '90s booklet, printed by CoC in NY, Sept. 1992 (Price: $4) Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "booklet" defined multiple times with different content
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Center for Political Education website: Past Classes (1998 - 2007)
  9. Catalyst Project about us, history
  11. WAR TIMES January 29, 2002
  12. [The Corresponer Vol 10, number 1, June 2002]
  13. Revolution in the Air, The Iraq War and the Anti-War Movement
  16. The Future of Struggle By Brooke Anderson
  17. [ East Bay | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism How Do We Uproot the System and Build a Better World? by globalize liberation ( josh [at] ) Monday May 30th, 2005 ]
  18. [ For May Day and Beyond: White People Stepping Up for Immigrant Rights! Indymedia Open Letter to White Communities For May Day and Beyond: White People Step up for Immigrant Rights!]
  19. War Times Staff
  22. Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign website, accessed Dec. 13,2010
  23. praise for The Cost of Privilege
  24. Catalyst Project advisory board, accessed November 25, 2015
  25. Towards Collective Liberation Acknowledgents XV]
  26. Chicano Moratorium website: Moratorium Participants (accessed on April 16, 2010)