Parsons, Lucy

Parsons, Lucy, 1851–1942, American anarchist and labor activist. Although she claimed publicly to have been born of Mexican and Native American descent as Lucia Gonzalez, she was likely born in slavery in Virginia as Lucia Carter, and her family moved to Waco, Tex. In 1872 she married Albert Parsons, a Republican and former Confederate soldier who became a radical labor activist. They settled in Chicago in 1873, and there began to organize workers, demanding better working conditions and hours. In 1886 her husband was one of the eight men arrested for the Haymarket Square Riot; in the infamous trial he was convicted of inciting violence and hanged (1887). Parsons became known internationally for her defense of the Haymarket eight and for her oratory for social justice and labor rights, drawing large crowds and leading mass protests, was a founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World. She wrote for the Liberator and other publications as well as The Life of Albert Parsons (1889, repr. 2012).

See selected works ed. by G. Ahrens (2004) and T. S. Greer (2010); biographies by C. Ashbaugh (1976, repr. 2013) and J. Jones (2018).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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