May 5, 2000

500 Year Chicana History Project Underway

Oakland, CA - In an attempt to preserve Chicana women history, the Applied Research Center (ARC) announced its support for new Scholar in Residence's, Elizabeth (Betita) Martinez, monumental task in documenting 500 years of Chicana history.

Elizabeth (Betita) Martinez

A Chicana activist, author and educator, Elizabeth Martinez has published six books and numerous articles on social movements in the Americas including the Cuban Revolution, the "Freedom Summer" in Mississippi, and Guatemala's long struggle against dictatorship. Her best known work is 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures, a bilingual history which became the basis for the video she co-directed. In fall 1998 she published a collection of her essays entitled De Colores Means All of Us: Latina Views for a Multi-Colored Century.

Martinez has said of her new project, "The goal is not to focus primarily on individual Chicanas who became prominent in some way, but to tell the story of grassroots women and their collective struggles for social justice. As a pictorial history, the book will be accessible to middle-school youth or even younger readers and I hope, will inspire them to join that struggle."

After graduating from Swarthmore College, Martinez worked in the United Nations Secretariat as a researcher on colonialism in Africa; as an editor at Simon & Schuster; and as Books and Arts Editor of The Nation magazine. During the 1960s she worked full-time in the civil rights movement with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the South and as coordinator of its New York office. Later she joined the Chicano movement in New Mexico where she founded the bilingual movement el Grito del Norte (1968-73) and co-founded the Chicano Communications Center, a barrio-based organizing and educational project.

"Betita's contribution to civil rights and social justice work is legendary. We expect to learn a great deal from her project and her residency at ARC," says Gary Delgado, Executive Director.

Since moving to the Bay area in 1976, she has organized on Latino community issues, taught Women's study part-time, conducted anti-racist training workshops, and worked with youth groups. She ran for Governor of California on the Peace & Freedom Party ticket in 1982. She founded and is chair of the Institute for MultiRacial Justice, a resource center to help build alliances among peoples of color and has received many awards from various organizations and community groups (most recently, as Scholar of the Year 2000 from the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies.)

The Applied Research Center (ARC) is an independent public policy research institute focusing on issues of race and social justice. ARC specializes in investigative research projects that reveal hidden racial consequence of public policy initiatives.

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