Grace Lee Boggs was no ordinary activist. A trailblazer in the civil rights, black power, labor, environmental justice and feminist movements, she formed strong and enduring relationships, reflected deeply, and contributed to the foundation on which so much grassroots innovation, exploration and resistance continues to take place in Detroit.
Boggs died yesterday morning at the age of 100 in her home in Detroit. We remember her as a leader and hero, and look to her legacy for lessons on how we can wage struggles now and in the future: with tenacity, bravery and love.
From the New York Times obituary by Robert D. McFadden:
Born to Chinese immigrants, Ms. Boggs was an author and philosopher who planted gardens on vacant lots, founded community organizations and political movements, marched against racism, lectured widely on human rights and wrote books on her evolving vision of a revolution in America.
Her odyssey took her from the streets of Chicago as a tenant organizer in the 1940s to arcane academic debates about the nature of communism, from the confrontational tactics of Malcolm X and the Black Power movement to the nonviolent strategies of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and finally to her own manifesto for change — based not on political and economic upheavals but on community organizing and resurgent moral values.
“I think that too much of our emphasis on struggle has simply been in terms of confrontation and not enough recognition of how much spiritual and moral force is involved in the people who are struggling,” Ms. Boggs told Bill Moyers in a PBS interview in 2007. “We have not emphasized sufficiently the cultural revolution that we have to make among ourselves in order to force the government to do differently.”
For the full obituary, visit the New York Times.
For video clips of Boggs throughout the years, visit Democracy Now!
Photo by Kyle McDonald via flickr (CC-BY).