By Robin D. G. Kelley
We knew this day would come, but I am not prepared to call Grace Lee Boggs an ancestor. Not yet. Brilliant, demanding, critical, exacting, serious, searching, as cranky as she was empathetic, Grace mentored me like no other. She had unbelievably high expectations for those around her, myself included, and despite her occasional disappointment, she never gave up on our capacity to think and act and think more deeply. She relentlessly and lovingly pushed us with the force and precision of the expert dialectician we all knew her to be.
I’ve known Grace twenty-two out of the one hundred years she spent on this planet. I first encountered her in person in April of 1993, at a conference on C.L.R. James held at Brown University. Of course, I first met her on the page as co-author with her equally famous husband, James [Jimmy] Boggs, of radical texts like Revolution and Evolution in the 20th Century (1974) and the small pamphlets Detroit: Birth of a Nation (1967) and Uprooting Racism and Racists (1969). There was also the series of small books/pamphlets issued in the 1970s under the title, Conversations in Maine.
By Grace Lee
Grace Lee Boggs died Monday at the age of 100. She captured the hearts, minds, and imaginations of people from all walks of life. “We have to change ourselves in order to change the world,” Grace said, and that is what she did. She lived the life she believed in and her vision of justice and human connection, her life of struggle, and her revolutionary thinking served as an example and inspiration for many of us.
Last year Grace Lee, the filmmaker of the Peabody award-winning documentary American Revolutionary, wrote this piece for Praxis Center about the making of the film and how “Grace’s presence – in Detroit, in the world, and in my imagination – has helped transform my own thinking.” We share these words now as a tribute to Grace Lee Boggs, beloved American Revolutionary.
By Shea Howell
Shea Howell, an educator, activist and founding member of the Boggs Center, shares her remarks from a plenary session at the recently convened With/Out – ¿Borders? conference hosted by the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College. This is the first in a three-part series on “Cities in Revolt.”
The battle for the kind of country we are becoming is being fought in our cities. Cities, especially those shaped in the traditions of African American and progressive struggles, are under assault. Corporate forces committed to the protection of the power and privilege of an increasingly smaller, whiter, and wealthier elite are attacking cities in an effort to turn them into centers of profit and play.
Central to this attack is the displacement and removal of people who have been in the forefront of developing new ways of living in places long abandoned by capital. Now, as resources are becoming increasingly scarce, finance capital is finding new ways to extract wealth from urban centers.