Grace Lee Boggs is an American treasure. She also happens to be an author, a feminist, and a lifelong activist for social change. And, with Boggs, "lifelong" means just that as she turned 98 on June 27.
As a young firebrand in the 1940s and 1950s, Boggs worked alongside C.L.R. James and Raya Dunayevskaya before partnering -- romantically and politically -- with auto worker/activist James Boggs in 1953. Her marriage, along with a long-standing involvement with the Workers Party, caused Boggs to dedicate herself to creating social change within the African-American community in her adopted hometown of Detroit, Michigan. Through her activism, Boggs also found herself supporting the early work of folks like Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to further solidify her credentials in the field.
The writer-activist turned 98 on June 27 and is still spreading the gospel of social change. Photo credit: Kyle McDonald. Used under Creative Commons license.
Over the course of her career, Boggs has authored five books, including one autobiography. Her most recent effort, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century, was published in 2011. This year, Boggs is the focus of the American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs documentary.
In her June 21 interview with Tavis Smiley, Boggs churned out pearl after pearl of hard-earned wisdom forged from the trenches of activism. Her prescription for uplifting blighted urban communities in the 21st century is simple: "Put the neighbor back in the 'hood." She sees her beloved Detroit as a beacon and a model for what is possible if citizens come together out of concern for their cities.
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