In “Free to Love: Celebrating Women’s History Month,” Lori Beth Way ends by challenging readers “to learn about the radicals, the outsiders, the ones who didn’t fit into the mold of the white rich woman activist,” asking them, “who would you recommend we learn about?”
Casey Huff (Publications Editor) responded to Way’s challenge. His suggestion:
Lucy Gonzales Parsons (1853-1942), labor organizer, socialist, and orator of Native American, African American, and Mexican American descent; a founding member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
According to William Loren Katz, author of Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage (Atheneum, 2012),
Lucy Parsons’s determined effort to elevate and inspire the oppressed to take command remained alive among those who knew, heard and loved her. But few today are aware of her insights, courage and tenacity. Despite her fertile mind, writing and oratorical skills and striking beauty, Lucy Parsons has not found a place in school texts, social studies curricula, or Hollywood movies. Yet she has earned a prominent place in the long fight for a better life for working people, for women, for people of color, for her country and for her world.
To read more of Katz’s article about Parsons, click here.
Vikki Bass (Educational Opportunity Program [EOP]) also responded to the challenge. She offered up two individuals–Ella Jo Baker and Alyce Faye Wattleton.
Wattleton received a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from The Ohio State University (’64) and a Master of Science degree in maternal and infant care from Columbia University. As a nurse, she attended to women who were suffering from botched illegal abortions. To learn more about Wattleton, continue reading here.
Ella Jo Baker (1903-1986), civil rights activist who served as secretary of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Executive Director of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) and “Godmother of SNCC”/coordinator of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee).
Baker’s “influence was reflected in the nickname she acquired: ‘Fundi,’ a Swahili word meaning a person who teaches a craft to the next generation. Baker continued to be a respected and influential leader in the fight for human and civil rights until her death on December 13, 1986, her 83rd birthday.” To learn more about Baker, continue reading here.