Written by Nancy Baker Jones
Read by Spike Gillespie
The Chicago police once considered Lucy Parsons "more dangerous than a thousand rioters" and spent 30 years trying to stop her from agitating for social reforms such as an 8-hour work day, race and sex equality, and socialism.
Born in Texas about 1853, Lucy Parsons said she was of Mexican and Indian descent. It is possible she was born a slave. She met Albert Parsons in Waco, and they married in Austin. By 1883, frustrated with achieving peaceful social change, they had moved to Chicago, started describing themselves as atheists and anarchists, and supported the overthrow of capitalism. Lucy Parsons wrote articles against lynching and child labor and advised poor people to rise up using explosives.
In 1886, Lucy and Albert Parsons lead 80,000 workers in a strike for the 8-hour day. At Haymarket Square, three days later, police and demonstrators were killed when a bomb exploded and police fired on protestors. Albert Parsons was among several anarchists executed for throwing the bomb, even though prosecutors said that none of them had been involved. Lucy Parsons’ flyer advocating violence was used as evidence.
Lucy Parsons never changed her beliefs. She spent the rest of her long life publishing, travelling, and lecturing in support of revolutionary socialism. She helped found the Industrial Workers of the World and was an early supporter of communism. She died in Chicago in 1942.
Carolyn Ashbaugh, "PARSONS, LUCY ELDINE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpa68).
Carolyn Ashbaugh, "PARSONS, ALBERT RICHARD," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpa41).
Audio Source Information
Our project, "Texas Women's History Moments," received the 2012 National Council on Public History Outstanding Public History Award and the American Association for State and Local History Leadership in History Award. The audio clips were broadcast on KUT radio from 2011-2016 during Women’s History Month.