There is one word we should all be thinking in these first days under president-elect Donald Trump. One word that we should be shouting as we begin the work of combating the racist and misogynist policies that will inevitably come. One word we should embody now more than ever: Organize. Under Trump, we will need to come together in radically new ways, ways we haven’t even envisioned yet. In moments like these, artists have an especially unique role, actively encouraging community and care, critiquing misogyny and white supremacy, and resurrecting important histories of resistance and rebellion.
The contemporary political moment requires us to seek out those whose lives and actions inspire us. Looking back, historical radical heroes can provide us with a compass; some direction as to where and how to firmly plant our feet as we prepare to organize like never before, and engage more deeply in struggles against racism, sexism, capitalism, transphobia, and homophobia.
In these difficult times, I find myself turning to a woefully underappreciated and under-studied woman named Lucy Parsons.
Parsons was an organizer first and foremost, and she led an inspiring life of revolutionary struggle and solidarity. As a woman of color who was married to a famous white male anarchist, she is often unfairly and frustratingly overlooked in many labor histories. Born in the early 1850s, Parsons moved to Chicago as an adult, where her politics radicalized as she witnessed the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. Parsons began writing for several socialist and anarchist publications while supporting her family as a dressmaker, while also organizing garment workers across Chicago. Parsons would go on to become one of the most powerful voices in the labor movement, helping to found the legendary Industrial Workers of the World. She spent her entire life fighting for the rights of the disenfranchised.
I made this short animated-documentary, as a celebration for and appreciation of Lucy Parsons—but mostly I made it because if we are to find a way forward out of the mess that is coming our way, we will need to actively seek out revolutionary heroes who struggled before us. Those who risked their lives for struggle every day—those who fought tirelessly against the ruling class and the rule of capital. Animation allows us the incredible power of resurrection—the ability to bring back to life the stories and struggles that we need to remember and learn from today, more than ever.