Lucy Gonzalez Parsons

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Lucy Gonzalez Parsons

Lucy Gonzalez Parsons is believed to have been born around 1853 in Texas as a slave to parents of Native American, African American and Mexican origins. At the age of 18 she married Albert parsons, following their union they moved from Texas to Chicago, Illinois because of threats to their safety. They were receiving the threats because of their interracial marriage in a racist Texas. Late in the 1800’s Parsons and her husband became active organizers in the labor movement in Chicago. They were anarchist and called dangerous by the Chicago Police Department because of their activism for people of color, women and the homeless. In 1883 Parsons, her husband, and several others founded The Alarm, the journal of the International Working People’s Association. That same year she also wrote for The Socialist.

Albert Parsons was arrested in 1886 on charges of conspiracy to start a riot; he was tried and executed a year later by the State of Illinois. It is believed that the State of Illinois conspired to create the riot to convict Albert Parsons. In 1888 Lucy Parsons began writing for Les Temps Nouveaux a French anarchist journal. In 1892 Parsons published a periodical titled Freedom in the A Revolutionary Anarchist-Communist Monthly. Following the publishing of the periodical, Parsons began getting arrested often while giving public speeches and distributing anarchist information. The arrest was an attempt to discourage Parsons but it did the opposite; she continued to push forward with her ideologies and the anarchist movement. Parsons was involved in the 1905 founding of the Industrial Workers of the World, she also begin editing for the Liberator which was an anarchist newspaper. The newspaper was created to support and spread the anarchist movement in Chicago.

In 1915 she organized the Chicago Hunger Demonstrations; it forced the American Federation of Labor, the socialist party, and the Jane Addams’ Hull House to become active in the demonstration. The demonstration was created to help make changes in the cities dealings with the less fortunate.  In 1927 she began work with the National Committee of the International Labor Defense, a communist-led organization who defended labor activist and wrongly accused African Americans. In 1939 Parson officially joined the Communist party. At the age of 80 Parsons continued to give her speeches and fight for equality; her last major appearance was at the International Harvester in early 1941.

In 1942 Lucy Gonzalez Parsons died in a house fire in Chicago, Illinois at the age of 89. During the seizing of her possessions the Police found 1,500 books as well as several writings she accumulated over the years. She was buried in the Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois next to her husband Albert Parsons. In 2004 the city of Chicago honored her by naming a park after her. Parsons was a leader, a rebel, an anarchist, a wife and a lady. She gave her life to help those less fortunate than her. Equality was her main fight and she fought for equality until the day she died. Lucy Gonzalez Parsons, we stand on your shoulders.

J.A. Ward.

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