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.

Watch Writer-activist Grace Lee Boggs on PBS. See more from Tavis Smiley.

Kelly McCartney


Kelly McCartney |

Having won prestigious literary competitions in both grade school and junior high, I attended college with a Scripps Howard Foundation scholarship, earned a BA in Journalism, and interned at Entertainment

Things I share: I seek. I write. I think. I roam. I listen. I care. I wonder. I help. I flirt. I try. I dream. I grow.