Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn earned a famous nickname when labor movement songwriter Joe Hill wrote a song about her: "The Rebel Girl." Why was she called rebel girl? Because she was only fifteen when she started giving speeches promoting socialism. Her father worked for the I.W.W., and she joined the union as a teenager. Even though she was young, her reputation as a speaker grew. She traveled across the country, speaking to workers and helping to organize unions. Sometimes the police arrested her. She joined the Lawrence, Massachusetts mill strike, in which 14,000 workers went on strike for three months. Sometimes she spoke at ten meetings a day.

Flynn visited Joe Hill in prison, and tried to persuade the government to free him. Hill wrote "Rebel Girl" in honor of Flynn and the women of the I.W.W.

After World War I, Flynn joined the Communist Party. She spoke, wrote articles, and ran for Congress—twice. She fought discrimination against women and African-American women in particular. She visited the U.S.S.R. several times, representing the Communist Party of the United States. She died there, and was honored with a state funeral in Red Square. Before her death, she said, "I believe in a socialist America." She was buried in Chicago, near the graves of Big Bill Haywood and the Haymarket martyrs.



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