grace-lee-boggs

Name: Grace Lee Boggs
Dates: 1915-present

Why she rocks:
She is an author and feminist, still alive at age 95, and writing books such as “The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century”. She focused on activism in all areas of the country, but specifically in Detroit.

Quote: “We are at a stage in human history that is as monumental as changing from a hunter/gatherer society to an agricultural society”

Because of this woman… we have books on how to become better leaders and activists today. 

We are saddened, angered, and defiant. It’s okay to feel grief, anger, and sadness. As Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, we must protect and support one another – and we must continue to support our Muslim, Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities. We will continue to organize against the forces of xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Black racism and misogyny that made today possible. This election doesn’t change the fact that we’ll continue to love, support, embrace, and nourish each other. We will create bolder, love deeper, and work harder to dismantle systems of oppression. We will organize for a world where our humanity is fully present and a world that allows people of color, Black, Indigenous, LGBTQ folks to thrive and not just to survive. Hold on tight to that vision of the world we want to create. Together, we are unstoppable.

Love isn’t just something you feel. It’s something you do every day when you go out and pick up the papers and bottles scattered the night before on the corner, when you stop and talk to a neighbor, when you argue passionately for what you believe with whoever will listen, when you call a friend to see how they’re doing, when you write a letter to the newspaper, when you give a speech and give ‘em hell, when you never stop believing that we can all be more than we are. In other words, Love isn’t about what we did yesterday; it’s about what we do today and tomorrow and the say after.
—  Grace Lee Boggs, The Next American Revolution, page 96-97
The will of too many Americans has been to pursue private happiness and take as little responsibility as possible for governing our country. As a result, we have left the job of governing to our elected representatives, even though we know that they serve corporate interest and therefore make decisions that threaten our biosphere and widen the gulf between the rich and the poor both in our country and throughout the world. In other words, even though it is readily apparent that our lifestyle choices and the decision of our representatives are increasing social injustice and endangering our planet, too many of us have wanted to continue going our merry and not-so-merry ways, periodically voting politicians in and out of office but leaving the responsibility for policy decisions to them. Our will has been to act like consumers, not like responsible citizens.
—  Grace Lee Boggs, “These Are the Times to Grow Our Souls,” The Next American Revolution (2012)
Being a victim of oppression in the United States … is not enough to make you revolutionary, just as dropping out of your mother’s womb is not enough to make you human. People who are full of hate and anger against their oppressors or who only see Us versus Them can make a rebellion but not a revolution. The oppressed internalize the values of the oppressor. Therefore, any group that achieves power, no matter how oppressed, is not going to act differently from their oppressors as long as they have not confronted the values that they have internalized and consciously adopted different values.
—  Grace Lee Boggs
I think it’s really important that we get rid of the idea that protest will create change. The idea of protest organizing, as summarized by [community organizer] Saul Alinsky, is that if we put enough pressure on the government, it will do things to help people. We don’t realize that that kind of organizing worked only when the government was very strong, when the West ruled the world, relatively speaking. But with globalization and the weakening of the nation-state, that kind of organizing doesn’t work. We need to do what I call visionary organizing. Recognize that in every crisis, people do not respond like a school of fish. Some people become immobilized. Some people become very angry, some commit suicide, and other people begin to find solutions. And visionary organizers look at those people, recognize them and encourage them, and they become leaders of the future.
—  Grace Lee Boggs
I cannot recall any previous period when the issues were so basic, so interconnected, and so demanding of everyone living in this country, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, gender, age, or national origin. At this point in the continuing evolution of our country and of the human race, we urgently need to stop thinking of ourselves as victims and to recognize that we must each become a part of the solution because we are each a part of the problem. Each of us needs to stop being a passive observer of the suffering that we know is going on in the world and start identifying with the sufferers. We urgently need to bring to our communities the limitless capacity to love, serve, and create for and with each other. We urgently need to bring the neighbor back into our hoods, not only in our inner cities but also in our suburbs, our gated communities, on Main Street and Wall Street, and on Ivy League campuses.
—  Grace Lee Boggs, The Next American Revolution

Our responsibility, at this watershed in our history, is to face the past honestly and do the things necessary to heal ourselves and our planet. Healing our society will require the patient work not primarily of politicians but of artists, ministers, gardeners, workers, families, women, and communities. It will require new forms of governance, work, and education that are much more participatory and democratic than those collapsing all around us. It will require enlarging our vision and decolonizing our imaginations.

Obama can’t create these new forms from the Oval Office. They can be created only at the grassroots level. I do not delude myself that he will be able to initiate the profound changes in our values, how we live, how we make our living, and how we educate our children that are urgently needed at this milestone in our evolution. We are in the midst of a cultural transition as far-reaching as that from hunting and gathering to agriculture eleven thousand years ago and from agriculture to industry three hundred years ago.

Our challenge now is to recognize that the future of our country and our planet is as much about us as about Obama, that in our communities and our cities we have become responsible for grappling with the issues he is wrestling with - the economic meltdown, our unsustainable lifestyle, the future of the U.S. auto industry, the health and education of our children, and how to extricate ourselves from our occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and resolve the many other crises in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Because we played such a huge role in electing him, because these issues are so critical to our daily lives, and because our transformation toward taking greater responsibility has been so great, we cannot return to the old separation between we, the people, and those we elect to office.

How do we continue this transformative process? How do we join in the work, calloused hand by calloused hand, of remaking this nation, block by block, brick by brick? How do we nurture this new spirit of service, sacrifice, patriotism, and responsibility, wherein each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but also each other?

—  Grace Lee Boggs, The Next American Revolution

Rest in Peace & Power, Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015).

You remain a visionary, an inspiration, and a beacon in dark times. Your intellect, foresight, and persistence will remain with us for many times more than your 100 years. - CM

[IMAGE: Grace Lee Boggs sits in an armchair at the end of two rows of bookcases. Text reads: “A revolution that is based on the people exercising their creativity in the midst of devastation is oen of the great historical contributions of humankind” Grace Lee Boggs, June 27, 1915-Oct. 5, 2015]