July 15 meeting to celebrate political life of Wendy Lyons

By Norton Sandler
July 16, 2018
Wendy Lyons joins 2006 protest against killings, brutality by cops in Los Angeles.
Wendy Lyons joins 2006 protest against killings, brutality by cops in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles branch of the Socialist Workers Party will host a meeting July 15th to celebrate the 55-year political life in the party of Wendy Lyons. Lyons, 73, died on June 16 after a long battle with cancer. The meeting will be held at the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 Workers’ Center, 5400 Pacific Boulevard, Huntington Park. A reception will begin at 1 p.m., the program at 2 p.m.

Lyons was a longtime leader of the SWP. She joined the communist movement in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1963 and moved to New York shortly after. She shouldered many leadership responsibilities, including serving 25 years on the party’s National Committee, and years on the SWP Political Committee. She was a field organizer for the party in the Midwest beginning in 1977, when, in response to changes in the labor movement, the party began a turn to concentrate its forces in the industrial trade unions. She was part of the generation of female SWP cadres who joined thousands of other women breaking into steel, the mines and other industrial jobs.

Over decades of building the SWP, Lyons was a member of party branches in New York; Seattle; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Newark, New Jersey; Philadelphia; and Los Angeles. She and her companion Al Duncan lived in L.A. since 2000.

Lyons worked in garment as a presser and also a sewer, and on the kill floor in meatpacking. She was active in the packinghouse battles in the Upper Midwest during the 1980s. She traveled internationally for the party, taking part in trade union delegations to Trinidad, to Cuba, and to South Africa after the fall of the apartheid regime. She attended the SWP’s leadership school in 1983.

Lyons ran as an SWP candidate for public office several times, including as a candidate for governor of Minnesota in 1990 and for mayor of Los Angeles in 2005.

She was active in the fight for women’s right to choose abortion, the battle to overthrow Jim Crow segregation in the 1960s, and in the fight against the U.S. imperialist rulers’ wars from Vietnam to Iraq.

In recent years Lyons joined battles against police brutality and killings by cops, spoke out against the brutality of the capitalist rulers’ prison system and California’s extensive use of solitary confinement. She was a stalwart of the Los Angeles branch’s work in discussing politics and the SWP’s program with workers at their porches and doorsteps. And she helped organize and lead many of the branch’s educational series.

Messages to the meeting can be sent to the Socialist Workers Party in Los Angeles at SWPLA@att.net. For more information call (323) 643-4968.