The influence of Samuel Martinez in the Fruitvale District
Samuel Martinez is a part of the history Oakland’s Fruitvale district as a therapist, healer, social justice worker, activist, writer and traditional dancer. During the Urban Relocation program of the 1950s, he and his mother were relocated to the Oakland housing projects where they faced racial inequality and discrimination, which he says have “made him stronger.”
After refusing to join the Vietnam War, at 18 years old he became an anti-war activist and joined the Chicano Moratorium. As a parent and organizer he helped create El Centro Infantil de La Raza and served on the board of directors.
Martinez is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who contributed to the creation of a mental health department at La Clinica de La Raza. He refers to himself as a “Social Justice Healer offering a Traditional Healing Praxis.” His praxis began with his mother’s traditional teachings of healing and in 1977 he incorporated the theories of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In 1971 La Clinica de La Raza was established in the Fruitvale district in order to provide accessible health care for the neighborhood’s Latino population. La Clinica opened its first mental health site named Casa del Sol in 1978.
In his backyard, Martinez leads community TemesCalli’s or Sweat Lodges for family and extended family alike. Martinez says that the meaning of TemesCalli stems from “Calli” which means home and “Teme or tema is in a prayerful way.” He says that the prayer lodge is “the creation story in our five senses because we are beings of the five senses.”
As an author he has published several books including The Indian Dream: Surviving the American Holocaustand AmeriCaCa—The Sounds of Silenced Survivors: Surviving America’s Campaign to “Kill the Indian, Save the Child.”