Last May Day (2017) I wrote a post about Lucy Gonzalez Parsons, the radial labor organizer and anarchist. In that post I wrote, "Lucy Gonzalez Parsons is an enigma. Her early life is not documented and she often told different stories about her early life. While some say she was born into slavery, she denied any African American heritage. Some believe her father was was a Muscogee man named John Waller and that her mother was a Mexican woman named Marie del Gather. She said she was Mexican and Native American and had been born in Texas. Sometimes she said she was born in Virginia. After the Civil War, she may have been married to a freedman named Oliver Gaithings.
We don't really know.
What we do know is that she was an influential, radical, labor activist, anarchist, and writer who is an important part of the May Day story and the history of the US labor movement."
Well, now we know.... at least we know more. I'm reading Goddess of Anarchy by esteemed historian Jacqueline Jones. She's traced Parson's birth to an enslaved woman in Virginia. Like many others, she and her mother were brought to Texas by their owner in order to take advantage of the cheap land. Disappointing to those of us who claimed her as Mexican but even more disappointing to me was that she rejected her own roots, creating the fictional identity of a Mexican-Native American woman rather than the reality of her being a Black woman. It makes sense, however, in the context of post-Civil War Texas.
Goddess of Anarchy is a truly fascinating and myth-busting book that looks at Lucy Parson's very complex identity and life. It is meticulously researched and beautifully written. If you want to learn more about Lucy Parsons, pick up a copy of this new book soon!