The defendants' most passionate and tireless advocate was Lucy Parsons. Right after the sentencing she went on a grueling lecture tour through the cities of the Northeast and then of the Middle West. She spoke in defense of the convicted men and on labor issues generally, covering her expenses and raising funds for the appeal by charging admission. A poster for one of her lectures notes that tickets cost ten cents, with ladies let in free.

Early in January 1887 Lucy Parsons again entrusted her children to friends and set out into the teeth of the winter, frequently encountering taunting crowds and hostile authorities. That the police were in some instances as ready to stop her from appearing as to protect her is clear in a series of telegrams sent from Columbus, Ohio, in early March from Lucy to Albert. "Arrested to prevent my speaking. Am all right," she informs her husband, alertly advising, "Notify press."

Newspaper reporters frequently treated Parsons with respect and remarked how she "shows pluck," but they also ridiculed her radical ideas and made pointed reference to her dark skin. She found herself subject to the same kind of hate mail that Albert and his fellow defendants received. A letter to Lucy now in the Parsons papers at the Wisconsin State Historical Society begins, "You are a She renegade. Born of wolfish proclivities, a frequenter of dens of thieves and murderers. Your parentage was engendered in the jungle along with the Hyena and kindred carnivorous animals." This was followed with a threat that she faced the same fate as her husband: "Unless you desist in your incendiary attempts you will soon be the deserved recipient of a Hempen necklace."