TABLE OF CONTENTS
Yolanda Alaniz Papers, 1971-1993
Yolanda Alaniz (1950- ) is a feminist socialist political activist and writer in the Seattle and Los Angeles areas, advocating for women, workers, immigrants, people of color, and the LGBTQIA+ community.
Yolanda Alaniz was born March 11, 1950 in Brownsville, Texas, the oldest child of Ninfa and Esteban Tanguma. Relocating to Sunnyside, Washington to work in the farming industry, Alaniz worked the fields in evenings and weekends with her family as a teenager, attending school simultaneously. In 1969, Alaniz would graduate Sunnyside High School and begin her studies at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle, graduating with a BA in Journalism in 1976.
During her time at UW, Alaniz became a Chicana political activist, joining groups such as El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA), Brown Berets, and Las Chicanas. Alaniz worked as a writer for the UW student newspaper, the University of Washington Daily, writing about women's rights and people of color.
In the early 1970s, Alaniz joined UW staff as an office assistant. In 1973, she helped lead the first UW labor strike in protest of state policies that would freeze the wage and job potentials of lower-paid workers, mostly women and minorities. Out of this strike, the Staff Rights Organizing Committee was formed (SROC), later becoming United Workers Union-Independent (UWUI). Alaniz was elected president of United Workers Union-Independent in 1976.
Post-strike, Alaniz joined the socialist feminist organization Radical Women (RW), interested in its dedication in fighting for women's rights. A year later she joined Radical Women's sister organization, the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP), a Trotskyist feminist party. Alaniz political career would be defined by these organizations, taking on leadership roles in subsequent years, and publishing articles for the party. She would become the Chair of the Seattle and Northwest chapters of the Comrades of Color Caucus, an organization within FSP/RW dedicated to education about issues affecting people of color (as of 1992, Alaniz would be the National Coordinator). From 1983 to 1989, with writer Megan Cornish, Alaniz co-wrote the nine-part piece The Chicano Struggle: A Racial or a National Movement? for the Freedom Socialist, the FSP newspaper. The Chicano Struggle was met with positive acclaim by those within the socialist party, attributed to the analytical look Alaniz and Cornish took at the nature of Chicano exploitation in the U.S. and the direction of the Chicano movement.
During the 1980s, Alaniz was one of the nine defendants in the Freeway Hall Case, a case originated by a lawsuit from an ex-member of the Freedom Socialist Party over a donation and FSP minutes disclosure. In a victory in the Washington state Supreme Court, freedoms of speech and association for organizations was secured, setting a precedent for confidentiality of organizational records.
In 1991, Alaniz ran for Seattle city council, making history as the first Chicana socialist feminist to ever do so. Alaniz campaigned on calls for higher taxes on big businesses, a dismantling of the war industry, curbing police abuse, nationalizing health care, utilities and major industries, as well as other radical demands in the interest of marginalized and oppressed. She was endorsed by Seattle union and labor activists and communities of color, ultimately earning 17.5 percent of the vote in the November 5 general election.
In 1995, Alaniz relocated to Los Angeles, continuing her political activism in the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women as a city organizer. She continued her focus on addressing the issues faced by women, the gay and lesbian community, workers, and immigrants. Further, she was involved and/or worked closely with groups such as the United Farm Workers and the Black Panther Party, amongst other progressive organizations.
Alaniz would continue her education at the University of California, earning a Masters of Library and Information Science, ultimately beginning a career as an archivist. She has continued her career as a writer and editor. In 1998 she co-edited the anthology, Voices of Color, an account of the experiences had by activists in the Chicano movement. In 2006 she published her second book with co-author Megan Cornish, ¡Viva la Raza!: Chicano Identity and Resistance. She continues to help organize the Los Angeles chapters of the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women.
This collection contains the papers of Yolanda Alaniz, Chicana political activist, feminist, socialist, writer, and archivist. The materials document her professional and political life; her work as a writer for University of Washington student newspapers, union activist, member and writer for the Freedom Socialist Party and its sister organization Radical Women. The collection is arranged in three series: Political Activism, Subject Files, and Publications and Oversized Publications.
The Political Activism series contains four subseries. The United Workers Union-Independent subseries contains press writings, news releases, and interviews with Alaniz concerning the University of Washington union. The subseries also contains a copy of United Workers Union-Independent: A Union that Wins, a history and collection of materials co-written by Alaniz. The Freedom Socialist Party subseries holds materials pertaining to to Alaniz's decades long involvement as a party member and leader of the Freedom Socialist Party, containing correspondence, memos, press releases, and news clippings. Notable among the materials is correspondence related to an early 1990s schism within the party as a "clique" formed out of the San Francisco Bay Area branch of the Freedom Socialist Party, as well as a historical account written by members of the clique. Also notable are materials about the 1980s Freeway Hall Case, containing correspondence, news clippings, finance reports, and endorsement lists for the defendants. Lastly, this subseries contains Freedom Socialist Party / Radical Women branch mailings from April 1990 to April 1993 for the Seattle, New York City, San Francisco, and Portland branches. These mailings contain news clippings, letters, leaflets, and announcements. Each mailing is accompanied with a listing of all the contents of the mailing, split up into categories such as FSP national news, local branch news, materials concerning the Freeway Hall Case, anti-fascist work, lesbian/gay work, labor work. Note that the Seattle branch mailings for May 29, 1990, March 6, 1991, January 10, 1992, and January 29, 1992 are incomplete.
The Radical Women subseries contains materials about the Freedom Socialist Party's sister organization, Radical Women, collecting memos, correspondence, news clippings, memorabilia, published materials from Radical Women Publications, and materials for the 23rd anniversary conference of Radical Women. Note: materials in this collection are highly interrelated. Alaniz's activist career was interwoven into the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women and their partner organizations. Therefore, many materials outside of the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women subseries include related information, but are arranged separately for visibility.
The Other Political and Activist Groups subseries contains platforms, news clippings, and news releases from the Peace and Freedom Party, the United Front Against Fascism, and the United Feminist Front. Remaining materials include invitations and flyers for early 1990s rallies and conferences, news clippings concerning Latinx or hispanic politicians, and most significantly, a folder on Alaniz's 1991 run for Seattle City Council, including flyers, news clippings, and press releases.
The Subject Files series holds one subseries and two additional files. The Clara Fraser subseries contains materials about the co-founder and leader of the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women, Clara Fraser. In particular, this subseries contains materials related to a sex and political discrimination case by Fraser against Seattle City Light after being fired in 1975. Fraser would win the suit six years later in 1981. Materials include news clippings, proposed resolutions, and a copy of Clara Fraser vs. Seattle City Light: A Documentary Album of Press Clippings, News Releases and other Selected Information. The Merle Woo news clippings file contains information about the academic, poet, activist, and member of the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women, Merle Woo. This file contains news clippings about Merle Woo's discrimination case against UC Berkeley and her 1990 run for governor of California. The Karen Brodine/Red Letter Press file contains press releases, reviews, event flyers, and artwork, for the posthumously-released Woman Sitting at the Machine, Thinking, a book of poems written by Karen Brodine, poet, union organizer, and Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women leader.
Lastly, the Publications and Oversized Publications series is arranged into two subseries and two files, and contains published materials both written by Alaniz and others. The Alaniz Writings contains clippings written by Alaniz as a student journalist at the University of Washington Daily and Northwest Access, a paper funded by the Associated Students of the University of Washington, as well as clippings of stories written by Alaniz for The Seattle Times, the Freedom Socialist, and two papers published by Radical Women Publications. Topics include writings on unions, the Chicano movement, the Freeway Hall Case, affirmative action, and feminism. Beginning the oversized materials, the United Workers Union-Independent clippings file contains newspaper clippings related to University of Washington Union activities. The Freedom Socialist subseries contains issues of the FSP newspaper from 1976 to 1993. Included are articles written by Alaniz from 1976 to 1978, a special edition of the paper concerning Clara Fraser vs. Seattle City Light, and most significantly, Alaniz and Megan Cornish's The Chicano Struggle: A Racial or a National Movement?, published in nine parts from 1983 to 1989. The final file contains an issue of the Seattle Gay News from 1980 covering neo-nazi and counter neo-nazi activity in Seattle.
Standard copyright restrictions apply.
Cite as: Yolanda Alaniz Papers, Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.
Collection processed by Rodrigo Leal, 2018.