Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Revolutionary Of The Week

Clara Fraser

Clara Fraser was born March 12th, 1923 in Boyle Heights, California, a working class, multi-ethnic neighborhood in East L.A.
Born to radical Jewish parents, her mother was a liberal socialist from Russia who worked in the garment industry & served as a business agent for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, & her father was an anarchist & a staunch member of the Teamsters Union.
Early on, in her teens, Clara was at the forefront of agitation for civil rights & socialism. She was a strong feminist way before the 60's women's lib. movement, & stood for lesbian/gay rights, race liberation, feminsim, & socialism. She welded these issues into the framework of the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) & Radical Women, which she co-founded & led for many years as FSP Secretary, & at the time of her death, National Chair.
Clara combined Marxist theory, interracial solidarity, grassroots organizing, & emphasized building united fronts & a working class political party.
Clara found work as an electrician at Boeing Aircraft & successfully campaigned for increased involvement of women in the International Assoc. of Machinists, as well as first class union membership for blacks.
Although Fraser was hounded from job to job by the FBI, she still participated in many political causes throughout the 50's & 60's while raising 2 sons.
In 1965, Fraser helped lead the Seattle branch of the Socialist Workers Party in a cut to create the Freedom Socialist Party, which was committed to revolutionary socialism, African American rights,& women's liberation.
In 1967, Fraser joined radical Gloria Martin to form Radical Women. It's goal was to teach women the know-how, leadership skills & workingclass consciousness that many were denied in the male-dominated movements. She also helped lead Washington state's first abortion rights demonstration.
Fraser was arrested in an anti-apatheid protest at the South African Consulate in Seattle in 1985.
Fraser is best known for as the woman who beat Seattle City Light in a 7 year discrimination case. The utility fired her for her participation & leadership in a huge 11-day strike she designed to bring women into electrical trades..
Once retired, Fraser was able to be a full-time advisor for FSP & Radical Women. For 2 decades Fraser had been a columnist for the Freedom Socialist newspaper. Some of these writings, as well as other writings, are collected in her book, "Revolution, She Wrote". In the book's dedication, she wrote, " The act of fighting injustice is full of hope and joy when it is viewed, and properly so, as a slice of an innate historical tradition, an ancient reaching out for universal human fulfillment."
Clara Fraser died February 4th, 1998 in Seattle of emphysema.
Her vision, her tenacity, & her talents profoundly impacted social change movements in the United States & internationally, & for that she is this week's Revolutionary Of The Week.