(Florence Hope Luscomb)
born 6 February 1887 in Lowell, Massachusetts
died 27 October 1985 in Watertown, Massachusetts
US American suffragist, activist for human and racial civil rights, and in the labor and peace movements
130th birthday on 6 February 2017
The legendary activist Florence Luscomb lived almost 99 years. When asked the secret of her resilience she answered, “I don’t smoke and I keep busy.”
She was in fact active to the end in the struggle for social justice, a struggle in which she had participated unflaggingly and without interruption for over 80 years, in all its important forms.
Her activism was motivated by passion, conviction and calling, as can be clearly seen in the following typical quote: “I enlisted in the suffrage fight while it still was a fight and an unpopular one. Now that the mantle of respectability has descended upon it I want to leave the work (great, patriotic, vitally important work as it is) for those who will do only the respectable things, and move on myself into the next fight of the future, which is not yet wholly proper. . . . I know in general it’s the labor movement.” Luscomb wrote this to a friend in 1922 to explain her decision to leave the League of Women Voters.
In 1909 Luscomb had earned her degree in architecture from M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), the preeminent technical university of the country, as one of the first women to study there. Until she was 46 she lived with her mother, who had divorced when Florence was one and a half. Well off herself, Hannah Luscomb was a model for her daughter in her activism on behalf of the suffrage movement, the disadvantaged and the working class. She was no doubt the most important person in Florence’s life and had “made her a radical;” even at age 90 Florence had tears in her eyes when she spoke of her mother. Florence Luscomb left her daughter enough money that she could devote herself fully to their common goals: the struggles against war and for the rights of women, Blacks and the working class.
“Discrimination against women is bitter, but it is to me nowhere near as terrific an oppression as is discrimination against black people. Each discrimination, though, helps the other. It's all one battle.” (Florence Luscomb)
(Text from 1989; trans. Joey Horsley)
Author: Luise F. Pusch
“There is no end to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” (Florence Luscomb)
“There is nothing in the world that is so transitory and fragile as a snowflake, and there is nothing so irresistible as an avalanche, which is simply millions of snowflakes. So that if each one of us, little snowflakes, just does our part, we will be an irresistible force.” (Florence Luscomb)
Literature & Sources
Cantarow, Ellen mit Susan Gushee O'Malley & Sharon Hartman Strom. 1980. Moving the Mountain: Women Working for Social Change. Old Westbury, NY. The Feminist Press.
Driscoll jr., Edgar J. 1985. “Suffragist Florence Luscomb, 98; championed Causes for 60 Years” (Nachruf). The Boston Globe, 28. Okt. 1985.
Strom, Sharon Hartman. 2001. Political Woman: Florence Luscomb and the Legacy of Radical Reform. Philadelphia, PA. Temple UP.
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