because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Lucy Parsons

African-Americans, Native Americans and Mexicans can all claim credit for Lucy Gonzalez Parsons, who was born in Texas in 1853 -- which would mean she was probably a slave -- but whatever her heritage, she was most definitely an in-your-face woman. In fact, she proved it at the age of eighteen by marrying a White former Confederate soldier right before the two of them were run out of Texas.

In Chicago, where they settled, Albert and Lucy Parsons -- quickly identified as smart young energetic and wildly radical socialists and labor organizers -- were considered by the local police to be "more dangerous than a thousand rioters." They fought tirelessly and effectively for the rights of political prisoners, people of color, workers, the homeless and women until Albert was charged, convicted and executed for his part in organizing the famous Haymarket Uprising in 1886.

Losing the love of her life, Lucy didn't miss a hitch in continuing her work. She published Freedom: A Revolutionary Anarchist-Communist Monthly for a time.  She helped to organize the Industrial Workers of the World. And she eventually published an anarchist newspaper called The Liberator. Her fiery political speeches -- which she continued to deliver well into her eighties -- inspired a whole generation of activists, including writer Studs Terkel. "My conception of the strike of the future," she admonished her listeners, "is not to strike and go out and starve, but to strike and remain in and take possession of the necessary property of production!"

Even today, in-your-face woman Lucy Parsons urges us to push the envelope: "The reinvention of daily life," she is quoted as saying, "means marching off the edge of our maps." Forward, march!

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