PReface and acknowledGMentS
Lucy Parsons, the black, Mexican, and Indian writer, orator, editor, pub-
lisher, and organizer who appears in the frontispiece of Radical Sensations,
is the book’s origin point and its inspiration. Following her paper trail
from Haymarket to the Mexican Revolution and the First World War era
required the excavation of an alternate radical transnational cultural his-
tory of the period, one that emerges as much through images as through
words. Her trajectory—especially her move from Texas, where she was
probably born a slave and where she met the future Haymarket martyr
Albert Parsons, to Chicago, where she was a leader of the anarchist move-
ment and active to the end in radical causes—also illuminates an alternate
Midwestern history, different than the one most people think they know.
Fittingly, an alternate history of the Midwest as the site of labor and
other radical struggles that were crucially shaped by the movements and
activity of immigrants, people of color, anarchists, and socialists is also
visible in a remarkable mural that Mike Alewitz and others painted in
1998 at a site on South Ashland Avenue in Chicago, not far from where
Lucy Parsons once lived and worked. This massive mural is part of a series
created by Alewitz and Daniel Manrique Arias in Chicago and Mexico
City to symbolize international solidarity. The South Ashland mural com-
memorates the successful fifteen- day Teamster strike that took place in
1997 against United Parcel Service (uPs) to protest the latter’s two- tier
system of employment and which broadened into a larger struggle against
exploitive part- time, service, and low- wage work.
In a departure from the Teamsters’ vexed history of internal corruption,
Cold War accommodation and collaboration, conflicts with the United
Farm Workers, and support for the Republican Party, under the leadership
of the reformer Ron Carey the union shifted tactics and remembered some
of the more inclusive organizing strategies of the Industrial Workers of the
World (iww), the “One Big Union” that Lucy Parsons helped to establish
in 1905: the iww tried to reach across lines of race and nation and to orga-
Previous Page Next Page