Sunday, March 7, 2010

Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs is a Chinese-American activist, writer and speaker whose more than sixty years of political involvement encompass the major U.S. social movements of this century: Labor, Civil rights, Black Power, Asian American, Women's and Environmental Justice. She often speaks of Detroit, where she has resided since 1953. Her husband, James Boggs, was an African-American labor activist, writer and strategist. Together they founded Detroit Summer, a multicultural, intergenerational youth program to rebuild, redefine and respirit Detroit from the ground up.

"This new kind of city can't be built overnight. To create it is going to take time and struggle, including political struggles over opposing policies and directions. It can't be built from the top down by politicians reacting to crises or by developers seizing opportunities to make megaprofits. It must emerge organically from the initiative, imagination, commitment, passions and cooperation of a lot of different people with diverse skills and gifts, putting their hearts, heads and hands together to make a difference. I can't predict the process by which this new kind of city will become strong and stable enough to be a recognizable social formation, but I suspect that it will be something like the one by which over the last four hundred years capitalism slowly but steadily began to take root in Europe and from there spread to the rest of the world because it met deep-seated human or spiritual needs for the individuality and freedoms that had been repressed by feudalism. Analogously, as we enter the third millennium, capitalism's destruction of community and of the biosphere, its denial of social justice and its consumerist monoculture are creating spiritual and material needs for a new culture based on new human values. The movement to create this new culture is emerging organically in Detroit because its physical devastation not only challenges us to begin thinking differently about who we are and how we want to live but also frees up space for new beginnings."
-excerpt from her keynote address: One Thing Leads to Another: Cooperative Developments in Urban Communities, at the Michigan Alliance of Cooperatives in East Lansing, Michigan, October 20, 2000.

Read more about Grace Lee Boggs here:

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