Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz who was born in 1939, grew up in rural Oklahoma and is the granddaughter of a labor activist who was involved in the Socialist Party USA and Industrial Workers of the World. From 1967 to 1972, she was a full time activist, living in various parts of the United States and traveling to Europe, Mexico and Cuba. During this time Dunbar-Oritz worked with the Venceremos Brigade in Cuba 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 and the South African Communist Party-controlled African National Congress. In 1974, she became active in the American Indian Movement and from the late 70s-80s, was active in the Oakland-based Maoist organization, Line of March.
Dunbar-Ortiz has worked closely with young Bay Area activists involved in STORM, SOUL and POWER. Of this connection she stated, “I talk to the young people at SOUL all the time… The reliance on nonprofit funding is frightening to me… In the ’60s, we intimidated liberal funders into giving us blood money, so we wouldn’t come and kill them.” President Barack Obama‘s former “Green Jobs Czar,” Van Jones, was a member of STORM at the time of Dunbar-Orbitz’s involvement. In 2008, she was one of several thousand academics to sign a statement expressing solidarity with former Weather Underground Organization terrorist Bill Ayers.
Dunbar-Ortiz has also written for the CrossRoads magazine, endorsed and spoken at the Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s and endorsed the anti-Iraq War newspaper, War Times. She has further lectured at the Sacramento Marxist School and spoken alongside DSAer Jerry Watts at the Democratic Socialists of America-initiated Left Forum 2007.