Elizabeth Martínez

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Elizabeth Martínez
Elizabeth S Martínez.jpg
Born (1925-12-12) December 12, 1925 (age 90)
Washington, D.C.
Occupation Author

Elizabeth "Betita" Martínez (born 1925) is a Chicana feminist and a long-time community organizer, activist, author, and educator. She has written numerous books and articles on different topics relating to social movements in the Americas. Her best-known work is the bilingual 500 years of Chicano History in Pictures,[1] which later formed the basis for the educational video ¡Viva la Causa! 500 Years of Chicano History.[2] Her work has been hailed by Angela Y. Davis as comprising "one of the most important living histories of progressive activism in the contemporary era ... [Martínez is] inimitable ... irrepressible ... indefatigable."


Martínez graduated from Swarthmore College in 1946 with a degree in English.[3] In May 2000, Swarthmore awarded Martínez with an honorary doctorate. Martínez has worked for Simon & Schuster as an editor and for The Nation Magazine as Books and Arts Editor. Her daughter, Tessa, is an actress and co-founder of San Francisco’s Latina Theater Lab.[1]


Martínez began her political work in the early 1950s.[4] She worked in New York for the United Nations Secretariat as a researcher on colonialism and decolonization in Africa.[1][5]

During the 1960s, Martínez served full-time in the Civil Rights Movement with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the South and as a coordinator of its New York office. In 1968, she moved to New Mexico to start a newspaper to support the Alianza Federal de Mercedes.[4] Along with lawyer Beverly Axelrod, Martínez thus founded the bilingual movement newspaper El Grito del Norte, which she worked on for five years.[4] In 1973, she co-founded and directed the Chicano Communications Center, a barrio-based organizing and education project.[1][3]

Since moving to the Bay Area in 1976, Martínez has organized around Latino community issues, taught Women's studies part-time, conducted anti-racist training workshops, and worked with youth groups.[1] She ran for governor of California on the Peace & Freedom Party ticket in 1982 and has received many awards from student, community, and academic organizations,[1] including Scholar of the Year 2000 by the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies.[3] In 1997, she and Phil Hutchings co-founded the Institute for MultiRacial Justice,[4] which "aims to strengthen the struggle against white supremacy by serving as a resource center to help build alliances among peoples of color and combat divisions."[6] In 2004, she served on the advisory board for the group 2004 Racism Watch.[7] She is also an adviser to the Catalyst Project, an anti-racist political education organization that focuses on white communities.[8]

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Elizabeth Martínez". southendpress.org. Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  2. ^ "Viva la Causa, 500 Years of Chicano History (version in English)". Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  3. ^ a b c "Swarthmore to Hold 128th Commencement on May 29". Swarthmore College. 2000-05-09. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  4. ^ a b c d R.M. Arrieta (2006-05-21). "Los Veteranos: An Oral History of San Francisco's Mission District Activistas". El Tecolote. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  5. ^ Crass, Chris. "Towards Social Justice: Elizabeth 'Betita' Martinez and the Institute for MultiRacial Justice". infoshop.org. Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  6. ^ "Institute for MultiRacial Justice". multiracialjustice.net/. Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  7. ^ "2004 Racism Watch Calls On Bush-Cheney Campaign to Change or Pull Offensive Ad". Common Dreams. Retrieved 2008-10-04. 
  8. ^ "About". The Catalyst Project. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 

Further reading[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Marilyn Seals
Peace and Freedom Party Californian Gubernatorial candidate
1982 (lost)
Succeeded by
Maria Elizabeth Muñoz