Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Grace Boggs turns 100 by Hatto Fischer

100 years truly lived, 100 years more to come

Legacies are created by individuals who outlive their times and yet move with the times as if contemporaries. Their thoughts are like the flow of times a part of the continuum we call a life which is rich in engagement, thought and reflections. Most telling is that Grace Boggs speaks about the anticipation of future revolutions, revolutions yet to come and therefore in need to be defined. She adds the condition that we can anticipate such revolutions, if we let our imagination be rich enough. What is this richness? Not a boundless territory which someone can claim as his or hers. Not the amount of money collected over time. No, richness in empathy allows an understanding of the others, including their needs and fears, but also their most trustworthy element. Over and again Grace Boggs shows this in her capacity to give recognition to others. She has engaged with all kinds of people in such a dialogue which enriches the imagination and makes any conversation with her so special. She has correspondet with many thinkers who made that transition from the 20th to the 21st century, and who are still not complete in what shall be out of a historical perspective their legacy. They will come alive when you touch upon Grace Boggs herself as her presence illuminates the others in no way anyone else can do that. I recall her sitting at the back of the SOSAD - Save our Sons and Daughters - meeting back in 1987. She was making notes as she did write down always thoughts articulated in the Maine discussions. Always she proved to be consistent as she contributes all the time to something most valuable, namely showing how memory works over time when thoughts are not only recalled but taken forward and adapted to areas of special needs, be they fighting urban poverty or lack of education. There are no rumors about her person. She has the moral integrity of an intellectual who stands up to this critical examination as to her integrity. When 911 happened, she perceived immediately the twist in the story once the media and politics made all Americans to be mere victims and not people with responsibility what is done in the name of USA both at home and abroad. Given her Chinese background but her life long learning in Detroit first together with James Boggs, and then after his unfortunate death alone, she has amazed everyone with her intellectual vigor and inquisitive mind which allows others to disagree with her. That then sets her apart from many others and makes her be a true spirit of democratic freedom.

Hatto Fischer

Athens 16.6.2015


An End to Politics as Usual


These are the times that try our souls. Each of us needs to undergo a tremendous philosophical and spiritual transformation. Despite the powers and principals that are bent on objectifying and commodifying us and all our human relationships, the interlocking crises of our time require that we exercise the power within us to make principled choices in our ongoing daily and political lives—choices that will eventually although not inevitably (since there are no guarantees) make a difference.

How are we going to bring about these transformations? Politics as usual—debate and argument, even voting—are no longer sufficient. Our system of representative democracy, created by a great revolution, must now itself become the target of revolutionary change. For too many years counting, vast numbers of people stopped going to the polls, either because they did not care what happened to the country or the world or because they did not believe that voting would make a difference on the profound and interconnected issues that really matter. Now, with a surge of new political interest having give rise to the Obama presidency, we need to inject new meaning into the concept of the “will of the people.”

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 interests and therefore make decisions that threaten our biosphere and widen the gulf between the rich and poor both in our country and throughout the world. In other words, even though it is readily apparent that our lifestyle choices and the decisions 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.

Historians may one day look back at the 2000 election, marked by the Supreme Court’s decision to award the presidency to George W. Bush, as a decisive turning point in the death of representative democracy in the United States. National Public Radio analyst Daniel Schorr called it “a junta.” Jack Lessenberry, columnist for the MetroTimes in Detroit, called it “a right-wing judicial coup.” Although more restrained, the language of dissenting justices Breyer, Ginsberg, Souter, and Stevens was equally clear. They said that there was no legal or moral justification for deciding the presidency in this way.

That’s why Al Gore didn’t speak for me in his concession speech. You don’t just “strongly disagree” with a right-wing coup or a junta. You expose it as illegal, immoral, and illegitimate, and you start building a movement to challenge and change the system that created it. The crisis brought on by the fraud of 2000 and aggravated by the Bush administration’s constant and callous disregard for the Constitution exposed so many defects that we now have an unprecedented opportunity not only to improve voting procedures but to turn U.S. democracy into “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” instead of government of, by, and for corporate power.

We may take some brief solace in the fact that George W. Bush’s terms in office, while wreaking national and global havoc, aroused heightened political awareness and opposition. Tens of thousands in Washington, DC, and other cities across the country denounced him through a counterinaugural. Then beginning in 2002, millions more took to the streets at home and abroad to denounce the war in Iraq. Meanwhile, the needless death and suffering that occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina exposed the true depths of corruption, incompetence, and arrogance within the administration.

Still, it becomes clearer every day that organizing or joining massive protests and demanding new policies fail to sufficiently address the crisis we face. They may demonstrate that we are on the right side politically, but they are not transformative enough. They do not change the cultural images or the symbols that play such a pivotal role in moulding us into who we are.

In 2001 a series of “Another World Is Possible” World Social Forums began in Porto Alegre, Brazil, to help movement activists around the world recognize that it is futile to keep calling on elected officials to create a more just, caring, and sustainable world. We ourselves must begin practicing in the social realm the capacity to care for each other, to share the food, skills, time, and ideas that up to now most of us have limited to our most cherished personal relationships.

Normally it would take decades for a people to transform themselves from the hyperindividualist, hypermaterialist, damaged human beings that Americans in all walks of life are today, to the loving, caring people we need in the deepening crises. But these are not normal times. If we don’t speed up this transformation, the likelihood is that, armed with AK-47s, we will soon be at each other’s throats.

That is why linking Love and Revolution is an idea whose time has come.

We must open our hearts to new beacons of Hope. We must expand our minds to new modes of thought. We must equip our hands with new methods of organizing. And we must build on all of the humanity-stretching movements of the past half century: the Montgomery Bus Boycott; the civil rights movement; the Free Speech movement; the anti–Vietnam War movement; the Asian American, Native American, and Chicano movements; the women’s movement; the gay and lesbian movement; the disability rights/pride movement; and the ecological and environmental justice movements. We must find ourselves amid the fifty million people who as activists or as supporters have engaged in the many-sided struggles to create the new democratic and life-affirming values that are needed to civilize U.S. society.

The transition to a better world is not guaranteed. We could destroy the planet, as those chanting “Drill, baby, drill!” seem determined to do. We could end up in barbarism unless we engage in and support positive struggles that create more human human beings and more democratic institutions. Our challenge, as we enter the third millennium, is to deepen the commonalities and the bonds between these tens of millions, while at the same time continuing to address the issues within our local communities by two-sided struggles that not only say “No” to the existing power structure but also empower our constituencies to embrace the power within each of us to create the world anew.

*Excerpted from “These Are the Times to Grow Our Souls” in Grace Lee Boggs with Scott Kurashige, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century (University of California Press, 2011).


We are asking for your support for Grace Boggs' 100th Birthday Celebration. All funds raised after expenses for the celebration (details below) will support the work of The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership  and The James and Grace Lee Boggs School.

To make a tax deductible contribution go to www.boggscenter.org and donate or send check to Boggs Center, 3061 Field St, Detroit, MI 48214.

For more information:

visit www.graceleeboggs100.org or

Kimberley Sherobbi - kthinketh@gmail.com (313-478-7610)
Doc Holbrook- docholbrook@gmail.com ( 313-467-7327)
Shea Howell - shrn.howell@gmail.com (313-282-7669)

Boggs Center Board and the Boggs School

“I don’t know what the Next American Revolution is going to be like but we might be able to imagine it, if our imagination is rich enough.”
- Grace Lee Boggs

Happy 100th, Grace!


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Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership
3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214



2.  Cities in Revolt by Shea Howell:

3.  Visionary Organizing: Tawana Petty

4.  Visonary organizing:  Matt Birkhold:  http://www.leftturn.org/grace-lee-boggs-visionary-organizing

Living by the Clock of the World: Grace Lee Boggsʼ Call for Visionary Organizing


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