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Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn delivering a speech (1913).

The Red Rose as Progressive Symbol

The red rose has always been an important symbol with anti-authoritarian associations. During the late Middle Ages, it was prominently displayed at plebian May Day celebrations that were often suppressed because they ridiculed the elites and challenged existing property relations.

In the modern era, after the 1886 Haymarket Affair, socialists and trade unionists began wearing red carnations on their lapels to show solidarity with the eight labor leaders who had been convicted of inciting to riot. After this, a red flower (a carnation or a rose) was often worn during May Day marches and other socialist demonstrations.

However, it was only after World War II that the rose became widely adopted as a symbol of the European Socialist and Social Democratic parties. At that time, the Socialist Party's symbols were considered to be too masculine, and with more women becoming active in the movement, the rose was adopted as a more gender-neutral emblem. The Tamiment Library used the red rose as a symbol on its stationery for many years.

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