Ella Reeve Bloor

American labor organizer and a founder of the Communist Labor Party of America (1862-1951)

Ella Reeve "Mother" Bloor (July 8, 1862 – August 10, 1951) was a long-time labor organizer and activist in the socialist and communist movements in the USA.

Quotes edit

We Are Many: An Autobiography (1940) edit

  • My earliest memory was of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the day of his funeral, when all the shutters of the neighborhood were closed and tied with black streamers.
  • Through the Quakers, who believed in equality for women, I first came into touch with the woman suffrage movement. I began to be very much interested in the question, especially after reading about Lucy Stone, one of the earliest fighters against Negro slavery, and a leader for many years in the struggle for woman's suffrage.
  • I felt that our new Party, firmly rooted in American soil, would be capable of leading the workers to final victory because of its faith in the workers themselves. I have never changed my mind about this and never will. My years in the Communist Party have been years of closest association with the workers and farmers of our country, years of great privilege, because I have learned far more from the workers than I have ever taught them. The fullness and richness of my life I owe to them and to my work in the Party. Our new Party was subjected to immediate persecution everywhere. Before long an injunction was issued against the Workers' World, the paper was raided and one of the editors arrested. The raiders literally smashed everything to bits.
  • The organized pressure of the masses wrested more concessions from the New Deal than it was ever intended to give them and as soon as finance capital felt that the immediate danger of the collapse of its system had passed, it organized to throw overboard the progressive aspects of the New Deal. The mid-term elections in 1934 saw the formation of a coalition of finance capital against the President under the banner of the American Liberty League. The reactionaries of both parties rallied to the attack-Hearst and Al Smith, the Morgans and the du Ponts. But the outright reactionary appeal failed, the Democrats increased their majority in Congress in 1934 while big votes went to such movements as Upton Sinclair's EPIC party and the Townsend Pension Plan. The election results were less an endorsement than a mandate to Roosevelt further to develop a program to satisfy the burning needs of the people. Roosevelt, above all an astute politician, understood that having lost reactionary support, his only hope of re-election was to heed this mandate. Big Business turned more and more toward the methods of fascism as the only means left them to crush the growing militancy of the workers and secure their profits, pushing forward such dangerous demagogues as Father Coughlin and Huey Long, at the same time they continued their open attack on Roosevelt.
  • I do not minimize what our Party has done toward bringing about true equality, admitting no discrimination of race, color or creed in our ranks. But I have often felt, earlier indeed, more than today, that there has been some hesitancy in giving women full equal responsibility with men. As for myself, I have no complaints. I have been honored with great responsibilities. But the power of all our women must be used to the full-especially today! We women must take our place consciously by the side of men, dropping any sense of inferiority. We must speak up without waiting to be asked, and we must have something to say. We must use every ounce of strength that is in us to build a new world in which there will be no wars. We have a great tradition to uphold, we women of America today, the tradition of those great pioneer women who helped build our country. Our Party is the inheritor of the traditions of all the struggles for women's rights throughout history. The finest type of progressive womanhood, working with devotion and courage for the rights not only of women but of labor, of the Negro people, of all oppressed humanity, is to be found today within our Party. Women like Anita Whitney...Caro Lloyd Strobell, sister of Henry Demarest Lloyd...Rose Wortis..radiant Rose Pastor Stokes...And above all, our working women, our farm women, the Mrs. Jimmie Higgins' who are always ready to take their places on picket lines or lick stamps or distribute leaflets or sweep floors, the thousands of women without whom our Party could not exist. Although I have mentioned in previous chapters the name of my co-worker and dearest friend and comrade, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, I feel that she belongs in this category of pioneers-especially because of her work during the first World War for the political prisoners...Nor can we forget the thousands of women in our movement throughout the world, faced with more difficult conditions than we, carrying on the struggle in the midst of terror and war. And guiding us all with her keen intelligence and great flaming spirit, that beloved leader of the Spanish workers, Dolores Ibarruri-La Pasionaria-who kindled new courage in all of us with her great rallying cry to the people of democratic Spain-"Better die standing than live on bended knees!" (p 308)
  • I am by no means closing my life story. I expect to live that for years to come. As I read over the chapters of this book, I feel that it is after all not adequate in expressing to the reader the real "me." How can I describe the deep emotions I have experienced during all these years, in the crises that come in every mother's life-and especially a mother who goes into the battles of the workers. How can I make others feel and understand the home-sickness of such a mother, even when the children are grown, the conflict in one's soul between the love of home and peace, and the responsibility of going out among the masses with the message that I have felt I must take to them. But the choice I made wasnot a sacrifice. It has been a privilege and joy. My greatest longing and desire is to retain my health and strength so that I may continue to work. I have not mentioned all my dear friends and co-workers. It would take a larger book than this to bring before the readers of my story the wonderful characters who have gone along the road with me, and others I have met in passing; great names, long friendships, loves and comradeships of men and women. Men and women like Barbusse of France, Clara Zetkin of Germany, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Ruthenberg, Debs, Browder, Foster, Ford and thousands of others, thousands of farmers, miners, workers everywhere and their children who have been close to me always along the march-all these have been the comrades of my rich and joyous life. (p 308)

Postscript edit

  • the richest gift was the inspiration of seeing what the workers of America were doing for the war. Shipyard workers, steel workers, miners, farmers-among all the old friends and thousands of new ones, I found the same fighting spirit everywhere. And the women! Women like giants in the earth as they took on men's jobs, managed their children and households too, and courageously bore the sacrifices war made necessary. Of course, not all was well. Problems of child care were not getting enough attention, reactionary forces were trying to split the growing unity of our people, especially of Negroes and whites, and trying to spread defeatist doctrines. But the people all over the country were marching ahead united as never before. It was a special joy to feel the changing attitude toward Communists. Everywhere I found our Party people in the vanguard of those groups determined to weld an ever stronger unity among all the American people, putting their last ounce of energy into the war effort.
  • Today in America, the overwhelming majority of the people are not ready for socialism, and so socialism is not the issue. We Communists know we can make our greatest contribution to the socialist cause by fighting in common with all the progressive forces in our country for full employment, for equality for all minority peoples, for the complete realization of American democracy, for co-operation with all the United Nations and above all with the great Soviet Union, for post-war stability.
  • 1943 began with the glorious victory at Stalingrad that turned the tide of the war, and ended with another decisive victory-the concord of Teheran, that turned the tide of history. I had seen the first socialist state come into being and watched with dismay how the other nations of the world had tried to crush it. I had seen our own country, after the years of reaction and depression, enter into a new period of democratic progress under President Roosevelt. And now, this supreme event, which meant an end of the division of the world into a socialist camp and a capitalist camp, and the promise of a world in which the socialist and capitalist democracies will work together to banish the evil of fascism and the scourge of war from the earth, and free the people everywhere from hunger and tyranny and fear.
  • And now, as I near the end of my first eighty-two years, the greatest joy of all is to witness the coming into its own of organized labor as the decisive factor in our national life. All sections of the American people are waking up to the fact that their own future well being and security are dependent not only on the goods produced by labor, but on the well being and security of the workers themselves. In other words, that prosperity, like peace, is indivisible! And the workers, by their willingness to forego the strike weapon and to give themselves unstintingly to the war effort on the battle field and on the home front, have certainly shown that they have no interests apart from the highest interests of the nation as a whole. The workers have grown in maturity and power, and they have demonstrated that they can be counted on to use that power not only to achieve the conditions of work and the standards of living that are their right but to advance the interests of all the people. And they know that the first job is to wipe fascism from the face of the earth.

Quotes about Ella Reeve Bloor edit

  • Ella Reeve Bloor was in her forties when I met her in 1910. She was strong and vigorous and moved as if she were flying rather than walking. She had dark hair, done up very simply in a little knot on top of her head, and very bright, snapping black eyes. I remembered she wore a lace collar pinned with a brooch. All here life Ella was a dressy little lady and loved jewelry. She was animated and vivacious. I thought she resembled a busy little brown bird. Her voice was clear and resonant and could be heard in the largest hall or on the noisiest street corner.
  • My first personal strike experience was in Bridgeport, Connecticut in the summer of 1907 with the Tube Mill workers, largely Hungarian. I was much amused to hear an overenthusiastic young may say to Ella Reeve Bloor in 1938, during the big CIO drive: "Mother, we had a strike in Bridgeport-the first one they ever had there!" She replied indignantly: "I led a strike of corset workers there before you were born. How about you, Elizabeth?"
  • my erstwhile devoted Ella Reeves Bloor
  • Before 1908 and since, American women have made lasting contributions in the struggle for social progress: against slavery and Negro oppression, for equal rights for women and women's suffrage, against capitalist exploitation, for peace and for Socialism...The present-day struggles of progressive and Communist women merge with the traditions and contributions of such great anti-slavery fighters as Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, of such militant women proletarians as the textile workers of 1848, of such women pioneers as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, of such builders of America's progressive and working class heritages as Kate Richards O'Hare, Mother Jones, Ella Reeve Bloor, Anita Whitney and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.
    • 1950 article in ‘’Claudia Jones: Beyond Containment: Autobiographical Reflections, Essays, and Poems edited by Carole Boyce Davies (2010)
  • It is time our Party recognizes the precious capital it has in its women cadres...the inspiring role of the foremost woman leader of our Party, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and of the great women veterans like Mother Bloor and Anita Whitney. There are other women cadres too numerous to mention.
    • 1951 article in Claudia Jones: Beyond Containment: Autobiographical Reflections, Essays, and Poems edited by Carole Boyce Davies (2010)

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