• The Left Chapter

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, IWW, labour and Communist activist, b. August 7, 1890


"What is a labor victory? I maintain that it is a twofold thing. Workers must gain economic advantage, but they must also gain revolutionary spirit, in order to achieve a complete victory. For workers to gain a few cents more a day, a few minutes less a day, and go back to work with the same psychology, the same attitude toward society is to have achieved a temporary gain and not a lasting victory. For workers to go back with a class-conscious spirit, with an organized and a determined attitude toward society means that even if they have made no economic gain they have the possibility of gaining in the future. In other words, a labor victory must be economic and it must be revolutionizing. Otherwise it is not complete." - Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, IWW, labour and Communist activist, b. August 7, 1890


Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was an early IWW leader who played a critical role in many labour struggles across the United States. The famous labour leader and martyr Joe Hill wrote the song "The Rebel Girl" in her honour. She was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union and organized mass protest campaigns against the executions of Sacco and Vanzetti.


In 1936 Flynn joined the Communist Party of the United States and went to prison for two years in the 1950s as a result of the anti-communist persecution of the Smith Act. Flynn became the National Chairperson of the CPUSA in 1961.


Flynn died while visiting the USSR in 1964. She was accorded a public state funeral in Moscow.


For a brief biography of Flynn see the scan below from the Communist Party of Canada's 1999 People's Voice calendar.