Lucy Gonzales Parsons – International Women’s Day

Profile of Lucy Gonzales Parsons (1853–1942). By William Loren Katz.
Labor organizer and orator.

Lucy Parsons as she appeared in 1886.

Image via Wikipedia

In honor of International Women’s Day, here are lessons, books, websites, and films to fill the gaps in our own knowledge, in the textbooks, and in the curriculum.

“Workers shouldn’t “strike and go out and starve, but strike and remain in and take possession of the necessary property of production.” So believed Lucy Gonzales Parsons, who died 70 years ago this week. In light of all the meanings the word “occupy” has come to gather in these times, William Katz’…

On March 7, 1942, fire engulfed the simple home of 89-year-old Lucy Gonzales Parsons on Chicago’s North Troy Street, and ended a life dedicated to liberating working women and men of the world from capitalism and racial oppression. A dynamic, militant, self-educated public speaker and writer, she became the first American woman of color to carry her crusade for socialism across the country and overseas. Lucy Gonzales started life in Texas. She was of Mexican American, African American, and Native American descent and born into slavery. The path she chose after emancipation led to conflict with the Ku Klux Klan, hard work, painful personal losses, and many nights in jail. In Albert Parsons, a white man whose Waco Spectator fought the Klan and demanded social and political equality for African Americans, she found a handsome, committed soul mate. The white supremacy forces in Texas considered the couple dangerous and their marriage illegal, and soon drove them from the state.

Lucy and Albert reached Chicago, where they began a family and threw themselves into two new militant movements, one to build strong industrial unions and the other to agitate for socialism. Lucy concentrated on organizing working women and Albert became a famous radical organizer and speaker, one of the few important union leaders in Chicago who was not an immigrant. Continue reading