The Legend of Lucy Parsons

 

Lucy_Gonzalez.jpg
 IWW Poster (IWW/Political Posters)

By Dolores Delgado Campbell

Many Mexican-American/Chicana women have been involved in labor organizing, but their activities have not been well documented by a white, male dominated history profession. One such leader was Lucia Gonzalez Parsons.

Lucia Gonzalez Parsons was born in Johnson County Texas in 1852, and married Albert R. Parsons in 1871. During her lifetime Lucia was a seamstress, a wife, a mother of two-children, a socialist, a labor organizer and a writer.

She was an editor and a contributor to the Alarm, the paper of the Working Peoples Association.  Along with her husband Albert Parsons, (the Haymarket Square martyr) she was active in radical politics in Chicago.  She wrote articles, made stirring speeches, and led numerous protests for workers’ rights in the struggle for the eight-hour day.

She launched the massive campaign to save the Haymarket Square martyrs, and traveled around the country in an effort to gain financial and moral support for the appeal of their wrongful conviction and death sentence. She participated in the strugglewhich led to the celebration of May 1 as International Workers Day.  Although unsuccessful in saving the lives of the Haymarket martyrs, she continued her campaign to help other political prisoners.

Later, she helped found the International Labor Defense and was one of the founders of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).  She was a principal speaker at the IWW’s opening convention in 1905.

Throughout her long political and labor organizing career Lucia led marches in Chicago and San Francisco for better working conditions and $3 for an eight-hour day.
Lucia also worked hard to get recognition for women’s liberation. In 1879 she became active with the Chicago Working Women’s Union, an organization which attempted to represent housewives and other wageless women.  They called for a suffrage plank in the Socialist Labor platform and demanded equal pay for equal work.  On April 25, 1885, Lucia and Lizzy Swank Holmes led about 50,000 women in a march on the new Board of Trade building in Chicago.  The two women had worked as seamstresses and sought to organize sewing women in the city.  

She described women’s struggles within the class struggle. Lucia supported a woman’s right to divorce, contraception and birth control, freedom from rape and for economic equality.

There has been a controversy about her ethnicity, with some writers claiming she was Black.  As a Texas, Chicana, Mexican American, I note that such racial and ethnic mixing was not uncommon in Texas during this period.

Lucia continued her dedication to labor struggles, socialism,  and women’s rights until old age.  She died March 7, 1942, at the age of 90, virtually blind.


DSA joins in the celebration of Women’s History month with these biographies of radical women leaders. 

Reposted with edits from “Women of Color,” published by the Feminist Commission of Democratic Socialists of America (1983).  A contribution to Women’s History Month. 

 Dolores_Delgado_CampbellAID.png Dolores Delgado Campbell is a DSA member and professor of women’s history and Mexican American history at American River College in Sacramento, California. She is a Chicana, and was the co-chair of DSA’s Latino Commission from 1982-2004.

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here

 

Data Security for DSA Members

June 27, 2017

Ack! I googled myself and didn't like what I found!

WHAT: A DSA Webinar about "Doxing"
WHEN: 9PM EST, 6PM PST

We're proud of our organizing, and chapter work is transparent for both political and practical reasons. However, there are basic precautions you can take in this time of rapid DSA growth to protect your privacy.

Key Wiki is a website that meticulously documents DSA activity and posts it for the world to see. If you're an active DSA member, likely your name is on their website. This is an example of "doxing".

As DSA becomes larger, more visible, and more powerful, we might expect that more websites like this will pop up, and more of our members' information might be posted publicly on the web.

Join a live webinar on Tuesday, June 27 with data security expert Alison Macrina, to learn:

  1. what is doxing? with examples and ways to prevent it
  2. how to keep your passwords strong and your data secure
  3. where to find your personal info on the internet and how to get it removed
  4. social media best practices for DSA organizers
  5. what to do if you've already been doxed

Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/9173276528

Call-in Info: +1 408 638 0968
Meeting ID: 917 327 6528

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 11 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 9 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.