Lucy Gonzalez Parsons was a labor activist in the 1870s and the first African-American womens labor organizer. She led the first May Day labor parade in the US which was a testament to the growing labor movement in the wake of the Haymarket Affair. The attention it drew helped establish the 8-hour work day and contributed to the institution of Labor Day as a national holiday.
Lucy was born in Texas around 1853 and was of African-American, and possibly Mexican and Native American descent. She and her husband, Albert Parsons, moved to Chicago in 1873 to escape personal threats due to their labor views and their inter-racial marriage, which was forbidden.
Albert made a name for himself during the 1877 rail strikes which swept across the country. He spoke to crowds of tens of thousands of angry workers and called for peaceful negotiations. Albert was sentenced to death for his role in the Haymarket Riots. While in prison he wrote "Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Scientific Basis."
Lucy's views became more radical and militant after Albert's death. She published Albert's manifesto and wrote for the publications The Socialist and The Alarm. Lucy co-founded Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) with Eugene Debs and Mother Jones. She carried on the fight for workers rights for the next 55 years, until the end of her life.