This was originally published in Partisan issue no. 26, printed September 2008.

Karen Martinez was once a member of her county's Republican Central Committee. It wasn't a good experience, and Karen didn't become politically active again until a decade later when CT Weber and Ric Hyland invited her to a Peace and Freedom Party meeting. What a difference! "People in the Peace and Freedom Party have the courage to step up and say things before they are popular, to oppose wars, to speak up for minorities and gays and immigrants - and it's not just lip service. They mean it!" she says.

Once "a typical soccer mom" with six children, now the grandmother of 7, Karen Martinez is concerned about every child, and wants free education from pre-school through the university. "We can't have a democracy when the people are denied education." She wants to put people back to work, make sure everyone has a home, and "green our economy." She is the Peace and Freedom Party nominee for State Assembly in the 5th District (parts of Sacramento and Placer Counties).

Karen met her first California leftists years ago. After graduating from college in Missouri, she visited California in 1964. Strolling past Sproul Hall on the UC Berkeley campus, she noticed something going on. Wandering into the building, she was put to work moving supplies, met Joan Baez, and helped hang the banner from the roof. This was the last day of the seige of Sproul Hall during the Free Speech Movement, and two hours after she left, the police moved in and beat and arrested hundreds. She returned to Missouri, but moved to California a few years later. Now Karen has found her place on the barricades again.

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