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450 S Michigan Ave, AUD 1851
Chicago IL 60605
United States


Illinois Labor History Society

Biographies: L

Biographies: L

Fred Lee was an active member of the IWW from 1985 until his death. He was President of the IWW General Executive Board and in 1988 was instrumental in retrieving a remnant of the ashes of Joe Hill from the National Archives in Washington, DC. Lee was key in reviving a moribund IWW organization in the British Isles in the 1990’s. In 2005, for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the IWW, he organized a conference of radical economists and labor activists to explore the intersection of Wobbly ideas and economic theory. As an economist and professor, Lee challenged mainstream economic theory and helped formulate alternative theories. He was internationally recognized for his work to promote a community among alternative approaches to economic theory under the umbrella term of heterodox economics. Frederick authored/edited over 15 books and numerous articles. While living in England, he served as President of the Leicester Secular Society which works for an inclusive and plural society free from religious privilege, prejudice and discrimination. Through these and many other activities, he lived his life following the Wobbly philosophy that power lies in organization and in action. Lee's ashes were scattered at Forest Home cemetery on May 2, 2015.

James Truman Lee

(1865-1923) Grave 34, Sector A

In the Cemetery record books, lot number 1043 includes a burial of James T. Lee and right alongside of his grave is the burial (with no gravestone) for Nina Van Zandt Spies, wife of martyr August Spies. While at this time we know nothing about Lee, we pay special attention to this lot because there had been no location determined for the burial site of Nina Spies. We would very much like to know anything about Lee and how Spies grave came to be located alongside his grave.

The cemetery deed, purchased by Cora M. Blocher notes the discrepancy between the name on the headstone which reads James T. Lee and the deed records the name Joseph Truman Lee.

Claude Lightfoot

(1910-1991) Grave 35, Sector G

A leader of the African-American liberation struggle, a scholar and a revolutionary, Claude Lightfoot served as a prominent leader of the CPUSA for nearly half a century. He grew up on the south side of Chicago, where poverty and racial oppression—then as now—were intense. He joined the CPUSA while active in the unemployment movement leading a struggle for African-American workers to be employed in the construction of the DuSable High School. Lightfoot rose rapidly in the ranks of the CPUSA, and attended the historic Seventh Congress of the Communist International in 1935. Among his responsibilities were Chair of the Illinois District of the CPUSA and chair of the National African-American Equality Commission. Lightfoot traveled widely and wrote several books, the best known of which are Racism and Human Survival, Human Rights U.S. Style and Chicago Slums to World Politics.

Geraldine Lightfoot

(1912-1962) Grave 36, Sector G

Lightfoot was an outstanding figure in Chicago's African-American community. Born in Mississippi, she came to Chicago as a child. By the 1930's she had emerged as one of the garment industry's top organizers, particularly among the women on the west and south sides.

Geraldine married Claude Lightfoot, for many years a leading member of the CPUSA. She worked closely with Claude in left-wing politics until the 1950's when she developed a brain tumor.

When stricken, Geraldine was initially refused treatment in a Chicago hospital by a right-wing German refugee doctors who despised her political views. The hospital's director later apologized for this gross violation of the Hippocratic Oath. Geraldine succumbed to the cancer in 1962.

Louis Lingg, Haymarket Martyr

(1864-1887) Grave 37, Sector A

Youngest of the Haymarket martyrs, Louis Lingg came to the U.S. from Germany in 1885, only a year before the Haymarket incident. Blacklisted in Chicago after refusing to act as a strikebreaker during a carpenters' walkout, he became known as "the most dangerous anarchist in all Chicago." As a Carpenters' Union organizer, active in the Trades and Labor Assembly, he was one of many clubbed during the protest at the McCormick Reaper plant. During the trial of the Haymarket Eight, Lingg's speech to the court was regarded as a masterpiece of intransigence. While his death was ruled a suicide, it is widely believed he was killed by police in his cell on the morning before the Haymarket hangings. Eloise Friedel was Lingg's longtime partner.

Jason "Lil Jay" Litzner

(1981-2006) [ashes scattered]

Litzner's taste in music came from his older brother. Jason was born in the Detroit and with little schooling beyond high school, Jason rode freight trains across the country singing songs of freedom and revolution. Like Woody Guthrie, Jay wrote on his guitar, "This Machine Kills Fascists." Jay worked with organizations Books Through Bars and Food Not Bombs and spent four months doing relief work after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He attended protests against war, animal cruelty, and President George W. Bush. The talented young man was drummer for the band Revelation and by age fifteen he was on the road and remained homeless by choice as his symbol of freedom for the rest of his life. Jay was a member of the IWW and was influenced by Alexander Berkman's Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist and Emma Goldman's Living My Life.

He included the Haymarket Martyrs in his song "Railroad Man" (also the title of his biography published by Perlin). He died falling from a freight train. His wife Rosie scattered "Lil Jay's" ashes at the Martyrs Monument.

John Stewart Lukehart

(1952-2008) Grave 38, Sector D

John was born into a farming family in central Iowa in 1952. He graduated from Laurel High School in 1970 and Iowa State University in 1974. His political activism can be traced to the McGovern for President campaign and his work with the Phoenix Party and Revolutionary Student Brigade. He moved to Chicago with his wife Jane Larkin and daughter, Jennifer in 1975. Their son Jason was born in Oak Park.

John was a labor union organizer in the steel mills of East Chicago before he joined the struggles to end race discrimination in housing, working for the Leadership Council for Open Metropolitan Communities, an off-shoot of the Chicago Freedom Movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr., in the 1960s.

John led the Village of Oak Park's Community Relations Commission for many years and served on the citizens' committee that brought about a permanent Citizens' Police Review Commission. John also played a prominent role in Oak Park politics, often with his second wife Mary Daly Lewis. The John Lukehart Public Policy Fellowship, in John's memory, was established by the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance.

Frank Lumpkin

(1916-2010) Grave 39, Sector C

Frank Lumpkin was born 1916 in Washington, Georgia. He was one of ten children in an African-American sharecropper family. Boll weevils ate their cotton, forcing the family to move to Orlando, Florida to work in the orange groves. In Florida, Frank began boxing professionally.

Moving to Buffalo, N.Y. in 1940, Frank worked at Bethlehem Steel and was honored by the United Steel Workers in 2003 with the Steel Union Pioneer award. In 1943, Lumpkin joined the Merchant Marine to help win the war against fascism and became a steward for the National Maritime Union. It was in Buffalo that Frank, his sister and mother became leaders of the CPUSA. After the War, Frank became a leader of the Buffalo civil rights movement.

In 1949, Frank married trade unionist Beatrice Shapiro in their new city of Chicago. In 1980, Frank came to public attention as the leader of Chicago's Wisconsin steel workers, when the mill closed without notice, cheating 3400 workers out of paychecks, pensions and benefits. Lumpkin, a rank and file worker, led a victorious 17-year fight for justice, forcing the steel companies to pay about $19 million to the workers. In 1987 Frank Lumpkin was elected as the Illinois Chairperson of the CPUSA.