Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Revolutionary Of The Week

Lucia Sanchez Saornil (1897- 1970)

Lucia Sanchez Saornil was a Spanish, lesbian, poet & activist who fought against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War. In the years leading up to the Spanish Civil War, she was involved in the anarchist movement & wrote for newspaper such as " Tierra Y Libertad" & " Solidaridad Obrera".

Saornil wrote many poems , as well, & joined the literary movement called " Ultraismo". Saornil was one of the founders of Mujeres Libres, a group of politically active women of working class who struggled against structured gender inequality. They strove to create an autonomous female community to empower women to realize their individual potential within the larger anarcho-syndicalist movement.

Mujeres Libres sought to educate women through their journal, which first appeared in May 1936, & through the litarary & general education programs they established throughout Spain within their national federation, officially formed in 1937.

Mujeres Libres organized employment & apprenticeship programs that trained women for positions that had previously been reserved for men. They ran maternity clinics & opened /maintained child-care centers for women who worked & were active in the unions.

Arguarbly the most radical of the Mujeres Libres leaders, she went further than her companeros in rejecting the ideal of female domesticity that permeated anarchist circles, arguing that "before you can reform society, you had better reform your homes." & that " the concept of mother is absorbing that of woman, the function is annihilating the individual."

Openly lesbian, Saornil & Mujeres Libres maintained, though, that sexuality was a personal & not political issue, & thus did not make it a focus of her activism.

When the revolution of 1936 exploded, she was involved with "Radio Madrid". In 1937, in Valence, Lucia was the main writer for the weekly magazine "Umbral", this is where she met her partner, America Barroso.

In May 1938, Lucia was named Secretary-General of S.I.A., Solidaridad Internacional Antifascista (International Solidarity Antifascist), a sort of anarchist Red Cross.

With the crushing of the revolution, Lucia escaped into exile in France in 1939 & worked to assist the refugees there. In 1942, to avoid being sent to the Nazi internment camps, she returned to Madrid, then Valence, where she continued to live until 1954, in total clandesinity.

Lucia Sanchez Saornil later died in 1970. Here is the poem she wrote in 1937 for Mujeres Libres:

"Fists upraised, women of Iberia

Towards horizons pregnant with light

on paths afire

feet on the ground

face to the blue sky.

Affirming the promise of life

we defy tradition

we mould the warm clay

of a new world born of pain.

Let the past vanish into nothiness!

What do we care for yesterday!

We want to write anew the word WOMAN.

Fists upraised, women of the world

towards the horizons pregnant with light

on path's afire,onward towards the light."

--Lucia Sanchez Saornil, 1937)