Who: In hono(u)r of Asian-Pacific Islander American (APIA) History Month, Sisters of Resistance celebrates the inspiring and revolutionary life and continued work of Grace Lee Boggs, 95-year-old philosopher and activist whose seven decades of movement-building experience have helped to shape American activism.
Why We Love Her: Born to Chinese immigrant parents in 1915, GLB has lived through, in her own words, “most of the catastrophic events of the 20th century — the Great Depression, fascism and Nazisim, the Holocaust, WWII, the A-bomb and the H-bomb, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the Cold War, the Korean War, McCarthyism, the Vietnam War, 9/11, and the ‘taking the law into our own hands’ response of the Bush Administration.” She has contributed her time and energy to every major social justice movement of the last century, including the the civil rights, Black Power, labo(u)r, Asian American, environmental justice, youth and feminist movements, and continues her activist work to this day.
May we all have the stamina, determination and vitality of this amazing woman.
What She Has Accomplished: GLB faced significant barriers as a majority world woman in academia in the 1930s. Despite this, she studied philosophy at Barnard College, graduating in 1931, after which she did her PhD at Bryn Mawr. She began organising with the radical left and translated many of Marx’s essays into English. After some years of political collaboration with this aspect of the movement, with a focus on marginalised groups such as women, people of colo(u)r and youth as well as breaking with the notion of the vanguard party, she left the Trotskyist left entirely.
Boggs wrote and collaborated on a number of books, including Facing Reality, which provided an analysis of the radical potential of anti-colonial movements, and Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century with her husband, African American activist, auto worker and author James Boggs (1919-1993), with whom she moved to Detroit, the city that became the focus of her community activism and where she became very widely known. In 1992, she co-founded the Detroit Summer youth program to rebuild and renew her city (Interviews with Grace Lee Boggs on DemocracyNow.org). Her latest book, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the 21st Century discusses ways in which activism can create radical social change at this critical juncture in human history.