Lucy Gonzalez Parsons was a labor organizer, radical socialist, and anarchist. She was a founder of the Industrial Workers of the World and was a prolific writer and speaker. At the height of her activism, Parsons was described by the Chicago Police Department as “more dangerous than a thousand rioters.” Lucy Gonzalez had Native American, African American, and Mexican heritage and may have been born into slavery. She married Albert Parsons in 1871. Due to intolerance of their interracial marriage, the couple was forced to move north from Texas. Relocating to Chicago, Illinois, the Parsons became increasingly involved in revolutionary activism championing workers’ rights, political prisoners,people of color, the homeless, and women. Lucy Parsons wrote for multiple radical publications including The Socialist, and The Alarm, the journal of the International Working People’s Association.
The Parsons were arrested numerous times for giving public speeches and distributing anarchist materials. In 1887, her husband was arrested and subsequently executed in Illinois for his assumed involvement in the Haymarket Riot, believed by many to be a frame-job. In 1905 Parsons was a founder of the Industrial Workers of the World, an international organization that believes that all workers should unite as a social class. Focus on class struggles of poverty and unemployment, Parsons, in 1915, organized the Chicago Hunger
Demonstrations, sparking a huge demonstration the following month with collaboration from the American Federation of Labor, the Socialist Party, and Jane Addams’ Hull House. Parsons is credited with envisioning strikes of the future, where rather than walking out strikers would stay in and take over the property of production, what would become sit-down strikes in the U.S.
Lucy Parsons continued giving public speeches well into her 80s In 1942 at the age of 89, Lucy died in a house fire.She died in a house fire. In 1970 the Lucy Parsons Center, a Boston based radical bookstore, was founded. The city of Chicago named a park in her honor in 2004.