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Women's Bodies

May Day: A Tribute to Lucy Parsons

Lucy Parsons

 "Oh, Misery, I have drunk thy cup of sorrow to its dregs, but I am still a rebel." — Lucy Parsons

"We, the women of this country, have no ballot even if we wished to use it, and the only way that we can be represented is to take a man to represent us. You men have made such a mess of it in representing us that we have not much confidence in asking you . . .

"We [women] are the slaves of slaves. We are exploited more ruthlessly than men. Whenever wages are to be reduced the capitalist class use women to reduce them, and if there is anything that you men should do in the future it is to organize the women. . . .

"We [say] that the land shall belong to the landless, the tools to the toiler, and the products to the producers. . . . I believe that if every man and every woman who works, or who toils in the mines, mills, the workshops, the fields, the factories and the farms of our broad America should decide in their minds that they shall have that which of right belongs to them, and that no idler shall live upon their toil . . . then there is no army that is large enough to overcome you, for you yourselves constitute the army . . . .

"My conception of the strike of the future is not to strike and go out and starve, but to strike and remain in and take possession of the necessary property of production. . . .

". . . . Let us sink such differences as nationality, religion, politics…There is no power on earth that can stop men and women who are determined to be free at all hazards. There is no power on earth so great as the power of intellect. It moves the world and it moves the earth. . . .

–Lucy Parsons from her Speech to the IWW in 1905

Lucy Parsons

About Lucy Parsons:

"A woman of color and a working-class revolutionary, Parsons spent her life struggling for the rights of the poor, unemployed, homeless, women, children, and minority groups, and for a future society based on free association of labor organizations.

"Born in Texas, possibly a slave, she met Albert Richard Parsons, a militant advocate of the rights of freed people, around 1870, and they moved to Chicago in 1873. In 1877 Albert was blacklisted from the printing trade, and Lucy assumed household financial responsibility by opening a dress shop. She began writing about tramps, disabled veterans of the Civil War, and working women for the Socialist in 1878. She soon gave birth to two children.

"…With other anarchists, she began organizing for the May 1, 1886, general strike for the eight-hour day, concentrating her efforts on sewing women. On May 1, she and Albert led 80,000 workers and supporters up Michigan Avenue. Three days later a labor rally at the Haymarket was the occasion of a fatal bombing incident. Police charged that radical activists were responsible.

"As her comrades were rounded up after the May 4 bombing, Lucy began organizing the Haymarket defense. After eight defendants, including Albert, were found guilty of murder, she traveled to many states, pleading her comrades' innocence to the charges, but defending their revolutionary goals. By February 1887, she had given forty-three speeches in seventeen states. When Albert was executed in November of that year, Lucy became a widow with a cause to carry on." 

From The Lucy Parsons Project

Many tears flowing from my eyes today.




6 thoughts on “May Day: A Tribute to Lucy Parsons

  1. This is actually a post I put up on May Day two years ago, but I was reminded of it because of Rad Geek’s trackback and liked it again when I re-read it, so I’m putting it up again.

    Posted by womensspace | May 1, 2008, 8:03 pm
  2. Wow, I knew one of the Haymarket defendants was called Parsons, but never quite made that link. Thanks for this.

    Posted by Nella | May 2, 2008, 11:46 am
  3. Another one of the great ones! Thanks for letting our 19th century sisters speak to us today!

    Posted by Satsuma | May 3, 2008, 8:30 pm


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