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5 Women Who Fought For Labor Rights

“Who, pray, are benefiting by all this waste and confusion? The dew, a mere small percentage of the population of the world. All the remainder submit because they think “it always has been so and it must always be so.” The work of those who have a conception of a true society of the future must devote all their efforts towards disabusing the people’s minds of the ancient falsehoods. It can be done.”

Lucy Gonzalez Parsons activism career started as a writer (looking at you, HC writers) writing primarily for anarchist and workers rights publications. She led marches for Chicago seamstresses, later founding the IWW, the International Workers of the World. 

“I’m not a humanitarian, I’m a hell-raiser.”

Mary Harris Jones, nicknamed “Mother Jones”, was an Irish immigrant who was propelled into activism after losing all 4 of her children and husband to yellow fever, and losing her dress shop to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. She worked primarily with the United Mine Workers, as well as child mill workers who were not being paid or treated fairly. 


“Life is a big battle for a complete feminist” 

Crystal Eastman’s mother was the first ordained Protestant minister in America, Crystal Eastman focused more on the issues within the state. Crystal Eastman wrote the Equal Rights Amendment, founded the Women’s Peace Party, and organized the First Feminist Congress. 


“Today is my day, as it is your day. Although I live far removed from the time when I was born, I do not feel that my heart should dwell in the past. It is in the future. While I live, let not my life be in vain. And when I depart, may there be remembrance of me and my life as I have lived it.” 

A child of freed slaves, Rosina Tucker was extremely active in the Brotherhood of Sleeping Cars Porters Union, the first black-led union. Rosina would discreetly distribute literature and information to the working men under the guise of social calls with their wives.


“We as women should shine a light on our accomplishments and not feel egotistical when we do. It’s a way to let the world know that we as women can accomplish great things!”

The name Dolores Huerta is far less commonplace than the name Cesar Chavez, even though they co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, now the United Farm Workers. In the 1960s, she negotiated the first successful contract between farmworkers and the sellers. Later in her life, she served as the National Chair for the 21st Century Party, an organization that aimed to have politics reflect the diversity of the nation.

Merlin Garcia

New School '21

Merlin Garcia was born in Austin, Texas and now attends Eugene Lang College. She studies film with a concentration in screenwriting. She hopes to someday work in television and publish a book of essays.
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