Over the weekend, I was introduced to Grace Lee Boggs who is a 99-year-old Chinese American activist deeply enmeshed in the fabric of Detroit. I learned about Grace from a reference on Bitch Media to a free documentary streaming on PBS (through Thursday July 30) “The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs.”
Grace’s story is an interesting juxtaposition with the work of the Detroit Water Brigade. Grace married a man of color, James Boggs, and devoted her life to the liberation of the black community. The documentary is a fascinating slice of history – we get to watch/listen to Grace’s own evolution in language and rhetoric as well as ideas. Grace is a believer in the power of evolutionary thinking and references to Hegel and Marx dialectical thinking pepper her life as much as the writings of MLK and Malcolm X.
I was enthralled with the documentary and Grace’s intensity as well as how smart she is. She’s quite candid about her life choices such as to not have children, but seems to have no true regrets. And I can’t help but wonder if anyone ever asked her husband Jimmy about that same thing. Then again, it matters because Grace talks about making a conscious choice and thus not going down a path where she would not feel confident in her decisions and open herself up to doubt. She saw that as critical to her capacity to give her all to the movement, to the evolution of humanity.
Grace posted this on her blog on July 4 and I think it really captures the spirit of her life, her work and her evolution.
“Hi Grace ?I heard of you for the first time today. You are an inspiration to me and more confirmation for the path in life I am on. I am a huge optimist and the most positive person I know. Rual Pinal county Arizona is in many ways similar to Detroit. Crime drugs poverty and lack of employment are issues to be delt with here. I have a plan of action that uses social media in a positive way and the natral resources of the area and solar electricity production and microfarming and local talent and creatvity.
“How does one person manage to turn a vision into a reality or even be taken seriously? I feel fortunate to have seen you on pbs. Thank you Jeff G.
Reading Jeff’s email, I suspect that there may be millions of Americans like him who are feeling the need to change this country fundamentally and realize that these changes aren’t coming from governments. What they get from the film is confirmation: and encouragement “If a 98 year old Chinese American woman can evolve into an American revolutionary, so can I. ”
That’s the Next American Revolution in process!!!
Her blog is titled “Conversations That You Will Never Finish” and worth a read on its own.
The documentary is a little more than an hour. I strongly encourage you to carve out the time to watch it online.
Grace has written several books, one of which is available in the Carnegie Library system.