Lucy Parsons – American History

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Lucy Parsons is an unmatchable character in American history. Her struggle for female emancipation, her labor activism and her leadership for the mass movement against class politics and racial discrimination lend her a high lace in the contemporary history. Present day America is unable to find women equal to her in organizing and leading mass protests across United States. Current socio-economic milieu of United States has same dilemmas with different manifestation as was faced by Parsons’s America. The labor turmoil, socio-economic inequality, gender discrimination is pervasive in American society but there is no one like Lucy Parsons who can set the impetus for a movement with her powerful oratory. So it is impossible to find such a mix-blood American anarchist, labor activist who is as gifted with a great oratory power as Lucy Parsons. .

            Throughout her life, she fought for the rights of the poor and oppressed workers through his writings and active participation in mass agitation.  Her major work was to re-unite the labor workers under one banner and prompt them to rebel against the state machinery and authorities for the acquisition of their rights. Her first publication Freedom: A Revolutionary Anarchist-Communist Monthly had a different conception of labor rights. It contained the anarchist philosophy that urged the work to rebel against state in order to get their due rights. Parsons sums up his anarchist doctrine in this way; “”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.” (Wobblies! 14) This conception of getting one’s rights was new to Americas and Parsons’s ideas get a huge popularity among young workers. For example she said in the Principles of Anarchy;

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My mind is appalled at the thought of a political party having control of all the details that go to make up the sum total of our lives. Think of it for an instant, that the party in power shall have all authority to dictate the kind of books that shall be used in our schools and universities, government officials editing, printing, and circulating our literature, histories, magazines and press, to say nothing of the thousand and one activities of life that a people engage in, in a civilized society.(Parson, 2004. p. 30)

She was a staunch non-believer in any kind of racial or gender discrimination. This courageous woman led rallies that had thousands of participants in them who gather together for the sake of demanding social justice from authorities who were not ready to grant it. Her whole life was devoted to the cause of standing against any kind of discrimination and injustice, poverty and capitalism. Her collection Freedom, Equality & Solidarity – Writings and Speeches 1878 – 1937 is laden with such ideas. Her husband Albert met her death just because of his determination to speak for the under dogs. These kinds of women are not present in flesh and blood in today’s world. The present day’s workers are still facing many problems, people in many areas are still facing racial discrimination, but there is no one like her to stand for them against the authorities. There is no woman present now a day to show the zeal, zest, energy, determination and courage of her convictions comparable unto her.

These are not just empty words when it is said that women like Lucy do not exist now a days as she was such a devoted and high-spirited lady to her cause that she worked as a dress maker, she raised her children, she was wife to a husband, she wrote in journals and papers, and she was an anarchist and an activist uttering fiery speeches for the laborers’ rights. Her words had the power to move mountains. That’s the reason that police tried its level best to arrest her because she deliver a speech before a public gathering. However she conveyed her views to the poor by writing in different papers and journals like ‘Alarm’ that was a revolutionary newspaper edited by her husband Albert, and ‘Freedom’.

She was a kind of women who devote very little time for discussing herself and cared most for her work for the emancipation of the poor. On the other hand in the present day female activists and the human rights workers care more for their glorification and less for the cause for which they are fighting. Unlike the women of the present day she tried to do some practical work instead of just speaking empty words. She actively and meaningfully worked as member of many activist organizations, she herself served as the founding member of the International Working People’s Association, which worked as an anarchist labor organization. Then in  1905 she played active role in founding the Industrial Workers of the World, this organization worked for the advancement of the basic ideas of the IWPA, it extended them carried out a strong movement based on powerful strikes and furious labor actions for many years.

Works Cited

Buhle, Paul; Nicole Schulman. Wobblies! A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of

            the World. New York: Verso. 2005.

Parsons, Lucy E., and Gale Ahrens. Freedom, Equality & Solidarity: Writings & Speeches,

            1878-1937. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 2004.


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Lucy Parsons – American History. (2016, Dec 28). Retrieved from

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