When the “East Side Joan of Arc” was just 16, she gave a speech entitled “What Socialism Will Do For Women” at the Harlem Socialist Club. This led to her expulsion from high school, which she seemed to find mildly annoying at best. A year later, she became a full-time organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and spent the next few years organizing campaigns around the country among garment workers, silk weavers, textile workers, restaurant workers, and miners. As a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 1920, she was active in the campaign against the conviction of Sacco and Vanzetti (two Italian immigrants convicted of anarchy on flimsy evidence). She also spoke out for women’s rights, particularly birth control and suffrage. In 1961, she was made chairperson of the Communist Party of the United States and continued to campaign for Communist causes (a ballsy position to take in the early 60s). She died a few years later during a visit to the Soviet Union and was given a state funeral in the Red Square before her remains were flown back to Chicago.
The Rebel Girl: An Autobiography, My First Life (1906-1926) by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
Words on Fire: The Life and Writing of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn by Rosalyn Fraad Baxandall
Iron In Her Soul: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and the American Left by Helen C. Camp