Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

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Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Template:30seconds Template:TOCnestleft Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (born September 10, 1939) grew up in rural Oklahoma, daughter of a landless farmer and half-Indian mother. Her paternal grandfather[1], a white settler, farmer, and veterinarian, had been a labor activist and Socialist Party USA activist in Oklahoma with the Industrial Workers of the World in the first two decades of the twentieth century. The stories of her grandfather inspired her to lifelong social justice activism.

Married at eighteen, she moved to San Francisco, California, where she has lived most of the years since, although the marriage ended.


Dunbar-Ortiz graduated, majoring in History, from San Francisco State College, but was selected for History graduate school at University of California at Berkeley, transferring to University of California, Los Angeles to complete her doctorate in History.

Early activism


From 1967 to 1972, Dunbar-Ortiz was a full time activist living in various parts of the United States, traveling to Europe, Mexico, and Cuba.

This time of her life and the aftermath, 1960-1975, is the story told in Outlaw Woman: Memoir of the War Years.

Dunbar-Ortiz was also a dedicated anti-war activist and organizer throughout the 1960s and 1970s. During the war years she was a fiery, indefatigable public speaker on issues of patriarchy, capitalism, imperialism, and racism. She worked in Cuba with the Venceremos Brigade and formed associations with other revolutionaries across the spectrum of radical and underground politics, including the militant Students for a Democratic Society, its terrorist offshoot the Weather Underground, the Revolutionary Union, and the South African Communist Party-controlled African National Congress.[2]

A good deal of antagonism was generated by a decision of the Revolutionary Union leadership (Avakian group) to make Roxanne Dunbar, a nationally prominant figure in the Women's Liberation movement, a secret rather than an open member of the RU. She had been recruited for the RU by the Venceremos faction in Cuba and had intended to go on a recruiting drive in the South to bring collectives into the RU. [3]

Socialism 2018

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz was a speaker at Socialism 2018, an annual socialist gathering sponsored by the International Socialist Organization held in Chicago, Illinois in July 2018.[4] Go to the main page of ISO Socialism Conference...

The Red Nation connection

The Red Nation September 5, 2018 ·


One of our favorite authors and a dear friend! Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is essential to The Red Nation political literature, and yesterday we got to hear her perspective on the history of immigration. Reminder: We have a study group on Thursday, where we’ll be discussing some of her work. Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in joining. — with Nick Estes, Elena Yen Suffling, Kiley Guy, Jennifer Marley, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Melissa Tso.

Indian rights

Dunbar-Ortiz took a position teaching in a newly established Native American Studies program at California State University at Hayward, near San Francisco, and helped develop the Department of Ethnic Studies, as well as Women's Studies. In 1974, she became active in the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the International Indian Treaty Council, beginning a lifelong commitment to international human rights.

Her first published book, The Great Sioux Nation: An Oral History of the Sioux Nation and its Struggle for Sovereignty, was published in 1977 and was presented as the fundamental document at the first international conference on Indians of the Americas, held at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva. That book was followed by two others in the following years: Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New Mexico, 1680-1980 and Indians of the Americas: Human Rights and Self-Determination.


In 1981, Dunbar-Ortiz was asked to visit Sandinista Nicaragua to appraise the land tenure situation of the Miskitu Indians in the northeastern region of the country. Her two trips there that year coincided with[5], the beginning of United States government's sponsorship of a proxy war to overthrow the Sandinistas, with the northeastern region on the border with Honduras becoming a war zone and the basis for extensive propaganda carried out by the Reagan administration against the Sandinistas. In over a hundred trips to Nicaragua and Honduras from 1981 to 1989, she monitored what was called the Contra War. Her book, Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War was published in 2005.

Line of March

In the late 1970s/1980s Dunbar-Ortiz was active[6]in the Oakland based Maoist organization Line of March.

In the early 1970s, universities purged both radical untenured faculty and radical student leaders, particularly under Governor Ronald Reagan in California (1966-1974). Others began behaving accordingly. Movements also went inward, trying to figure out how to restart the mass movement, taking stock, also doing some good organizing. The group I was with, Line of March, and other groups in the San Francisco area got radicals into key local positions, which has had a permanent effect on local politics.

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".


In the mid 1990s Dunbar-Ortiz was[7]a contributing editor to Oakland based Institute for Social and Economic Studies- sponsor of CrossRoads magazine, which sought to promote dialogue and building new alliances among progressives and leftists... and to bring diverse Marxist and socialist traditions to bear while exploring new strategies and directions for the progressive political movements.

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.[8]

CoC National Conference endorser

In 1992 Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz endorsed the Committees of Correspondence national conference Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s held at Berkeley California July 17-19.[9]

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.[10]

Workshops that were held at the conference on Saturday, July 18 included:[11]

Quincentennial Five hundred years of resistance. The quincentennial: racist distortions and myths


Dunbar-Ortiz, her friend Betita Martinez and others connected to Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, have worked closely with young Bay Area activists involved in STORM, SOUL and POWER.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz says;

"I talk to the young people at SOUL all the time...I keep bringing up the problem. The reliance on nonprofit funding is frightening to me because of what I've seen in the past. It's hard not to become dependent, to be undermined by the foundations. It's like an invasion of the body snatchers.
"In the '60s, we intimidated liberal funders into giving us blood money, so we wouldn't come and kill them,"

According to Dunbar-Ortiz[12], Abby Rockefeller used to write checks without asking what it was for -- sometimes it was for weapons.

Opposing the "War on Terror"

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 supporters[13]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.

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

In January 2002, a group of San Francisco leftists, mainly involved with STORM or Committees of Correspondence, founded a national anti-Iraq War newspaper[14] War Times.

Endorsers of the project included Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.

Not In Our Name

In August 2004 Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz a professor endorsed an anti “Bush Team” Protest at the Republican National Convention in New York, organized by Not In Our Name, an organization closely associated with the Revolutionary Communist Party[15].

Sacramento Marxist School

On Apr 18 2002 Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz lectured at the Sacramento Marxist School on International Human Rights.[16]

On Jan 19 2006 Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz lectured at the Sacramento Marxist School on Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War.

On Dec 20 2007 Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz lectured at the Sacramento Marxist School on Roots of Resistance: History of Land Tenure in New Mexico.

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[17].

Center for Political Education

In 2002 Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, author of "Outlaw Woman, A Memoir of the War Years" and member of the Annual Marxist Study Group: Organization Building, was the speaker at a book reading entitled: "The War Years from a Woman’s Perspective." The reading was held at the San Francisco based Center for Political Education, an organization closely associated with the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.[18]

In 2003 Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of "Outlaw Woman, A Memoir of the War Years", Signe Waller, author of "Love and Revolution: A political memoir/people’s history of the Greensboro Massacre" and Max Elbaum, author of "Revolution in the Air: Sixties radicals turn to Lenin, Mao, and Che" gave talks entitled: "Love and Revolution: Three activists/authors discuss lessons from the 1960s-70s." The classes were held at the San Francisco based Center for Political Education, an organization closely associated with the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.[18]

In 2006 Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Eric Quezada gave talks entitled: "From Managua to Baghdad", on the U.S. intervention in Central America in the 80’s, the resistance to it and some parallels with today’s events in both Latin America and the U.S. War in Iraq. These talks were held at the San Francisco based Center for Political Education, an organization closely associated with the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.[18]

"Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair"

San Francisco, March 29, 2004? 8th Annual SF/Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair San Francisco County Fair Bldg.


  • Rita D. Brown, prison activist, served eight years in federal prison after being convicted for a politically motivated bank robbery in 1978 as part the George Jackson Brigade, co-founded Out of Control: Lesbian Committee to Support Women Political Prisoners, helped organize the Norma Jean Croy Support Committee, which gained freedom for Croy after she was wrongfully imprisoned for 19 years by the state of California, and helped plan Critical Resistance: Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex.
  • Diane Di Prima, author of Revolutionary Letters, Memoirs of a Beatnik, Recollections of My Life As a Woman: The New York Years, Dinners and Nightmares, Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems, Seminary Poems and Selected Poems, 1956-1976
  • Ron Sakolsky, editor (with James Koehnline) of Gone to Croatan an Anthology, editor (with Stephen Dunifer) of Seizing the Air Waves: A Free Radio Handbook, author of Surrealist Subversions: Rants, Writings & Images by the Surrealist Movement in the United States and Sounding Off!: Music As Subversion/Resistance/Revolution
  • Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie (Haymarket Series), Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years 1960-1975, Roots of Resistance: Land Tenure in New Mexico, 1680-1980 and Indians of the Americas: Self-Determination and Human Rights
  • Max Elbaum, author of Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals turn to Lenin, Mao and Che 3:30 pm
  • Eric Drooker, author of Blood Song, Flood!: A Novel in Pictures and (with Allen Ginsberg) Street Posters & Ballads: A Selection of Poems, Songs & Graphics and Illuminated Poems
  • Chris Carlsson, editor of Critical Mass: Bicycling's Defiant Celebration, Bad Attitude: The Processed World Anthology and (with James Brook) Reclaiming San Francisco: History, Politics, Culture: A City Lights Anthology
  • Roy San Filippo, editor of A New World in Our Hearts: eight Years of Writings from the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation
  • Kirk Read, author of How I Learned to Snap[19]

Left Forum

Alyson Cole, Walter Benn Michaels, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Jerry Watts were speakers on the The Trouble With Diversity: Challenging Multiculturalism panel at Left Forum 2007. The forum was held March 9 - 11, 2007 at Cooper Union College, New York City.[20]

Iraq War "teach-in"

1968 The Great Rehearsal was a " Symposium and Week of Events on the Long ‘68 " held at the University of California, Berkeley September 17-25, 2008.

The revolutionary upheaval of 1968 was seen as a 'rehearsal' for the looming revolutionary events of the coming era.

The "National Teach-In on the Iraq War" event was run by a Working Group, consisting of;

"Support Bill Ayers"

In October 2008, several thousand college professors, students and academic staff signed a statement Support Bill Ayers in solidarity with former Weather Underground Organization terrorist Bill Ayers.

In the run up to the U.S. presidential elections, Ayers had come under considerable media scrutiny, sparked by his relationship to presidential candidate Barack Obama.

We write to support our colleague Professor William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who is currently under determined and sustained political attack...
We, the undersigned, stand on the side of education as an enterprise devoted to human inquiry, enlightenment, and liberation. We oppose the demonization of Professor William Ayers.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz of the California State University signed the statement.[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 .

The key to Chip Smith's book, The Cost of Privilege, can be found in its subtitle: Taking On The System of White Supremacy and Racism, which signals that this is the work of a social justice activist. Yet, it is also meticulously researched and based on wide reading. As a teacher, I see this book as a dream text for a high school or university course on racism; as an activist myself, I see it as an organizing manual. But the general reader can be assured that this is a well-written and reliable book on a subject that everyday is becoming more urgent.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, historian, writer, and activist.[23]

Anarchist "editorial crew"

Chris Crass', essay "Beyond Voting: anarchist organizing, electoral politics and developing strategy for liberation" was assisted by an "editorial crew" consisting of : Nisha Anand, Clare Bayard, Dan Berger, Ingrid Chapman, Chris Dixon, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Jeff Giaquinto, Rahula Janowski, Sharon Martinas, Gabriel Sayegh and Josh Warren-White[24]

Left Forum 2009

Looking Back and Moving Forward: A Roundtable on Ending Imperialist Projects in Iraq, the Middle East and South Asia: Andor Skotnes, and David Applebaum, (Co-chairs)

Left Forum 2011

Hillbilly Nationalists, Revolutionary Greasers, and Black Power: > Organizing Poor Whites in the New Left:

"Towards Collective Liberation"

Chris Dixon is the author, with Chris Crass, and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz of "Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategies" PM Press 2013.[25]

"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, Harjit Singh Gill, Emily Thuma, Rami Elamine, Chanelle Gallant, Charlie Frederick, Amar Shah, Alicia Garza, Elandria Williams, Carla Wallace, Ernesto Aguilar, Lisa Albrecht.[26]

Book talk with Jamala Rogers

518 Valencia St, San Francisco Sunday 7 February 2016, organized by Michelle Foy "Book talk with Jamala Rogers, founder of the St. Louis based Organization for Black Struggle & author of Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebel".

Jamala will explore the roots of the Ferguson Rebellion and the practical lessons for organizing.
"There is no algorithm, no theory that can predict when human rage reaches its boiling point. I wanted to expose to some and to remind others that there is another side of Ferguson, St. Louis County, USA that exists...if we work together in a respectful & disciplined way, a new Ferguson, St. Louis, & USA, is possible." —Jamala Rogers

Those signalling their intention to attend on Wherevent included Georgia Faye Hirsty, Melanie McCrea, Joe Navarro, Michelle Foy, Cynthia Fong, Gerald Lenoir, Fernando Marti, Lucia Aguilar-Navarro, Joyce Nakamura, Jeremy Gong, Jason Wallach, Andrew Rogge, Lucy Clarke, Colleen FitzSimons, Saima Hashimi, Rachel Rye Butler, Pam Tau Lee, Afomeia Tesfai, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Kari Riesgo Banuelos, Eva Martinez, Justin Tombolesi, Josh Warren-White, Kate Sorensen, Malkia Cyril, Lelia Gomez, Mark Prudowsky, N’Tanya Lee, Marcy Rein, Finley Coyl, Shina Riane, Ken Yamada, Dyan Ruiz, Nancy Wan, Sarah Jarmon, Mark McBeth, Leon Sun, Sabrina Cascos Peterson, Mary Sweeters, Eric See, Dani Gonzalez, Mashael Majid, Susan Weiss, Juan Gamboa, Jr., Amy Sonnie, Felicia Gustin, Mickey Ellinger, Betty Pazmino, Charlie Fredrick, Aimee Molina Cuellar, Becki Ming-Yoke Hom.

Sponsored by: Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Organización Socialista del Camino para la Libertad and LeftRoots.[27]

CoC 2016 conference

Banquet at Emeryville Senior Centerly 2016;

Evening program: “Building Solidarity with Social Movements”


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

  3. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 158, Issue 48, 4 January 1971]
  4. Socialism Conference 2018 Socialism Conference 2018 (accessed July 23 2018)
  7. Crossroads March 1996
  8. Re: [Marxism Line of March from [Ethan Young]Date, Wed, 15 Sep 2010]
  9. CCDS Background
  10. Conference program
  11. 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)
  14. WAR TIMES January 29, 2002
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Center for Political Education website: Past Classes (1998 - 2007)
  19. Annual SF/Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair
  22. Liberal Education website: Bill Ayers supporters
  23. praise for The Cost of Privilege
  24. Chris Crass, Colours of Resistance Archive Beyond Voting: anarchist organizing, electoral politics and developing strategy for liberation
  25. Amazon Towards Collective Liberation
  26. Towards Collective Liberation Acknowledgents XV]
  27. Wherevent Book talk with Jamala Rogers, founder of the St. Louis based Organization for Black Struggle & author of Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebel
  28. [1]