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Grace Lee Boggs

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Emily Wong

on 28 March 2016

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Transcript of Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs was born in 1915 to Chinese immigrant parents in Providence, Rhode Island. From a young age, there were people saying that her life was not as valuable because she was a girl and she was Chinese. It made her feel very small and unimportant.
Growing Up: The Problem Only Gets Worse
Artifact 1: Background
From Grace Lee Bogg's autobiography Living for Change (1998)

Grace Lee Boggs speaks about her background and how that affected her view on life. Some things did not seem right in society because of how she was treated.

Artifact 2: Barnard College
The Struggle
Even with her Ph. D., she had trouble finding a job. Businesses discriminated, or treated her unfairly, because she was a Chinese American person. That did not seem fair to her. Though she did find a low-paying job, she could not afford to live at a nice place and ended up living in a basement that had a lot of rats.
Finding Hope
When she wanted to take action, she joined a group of people protesting rat-infestation. There, she became connected with the black community through the protest with the Worker's Party members.

She became allies with black activists such as C.L.R. James and Malcolm X. When C.L.R., Grace, and Raya Dunayevskaya decided that their ideas were becoming different from the Worker's Party, they split off and founded the Correspondence Publishing Committee.
Artifact 4: Allies
Two is Better Than One
She moved to Detroit to work at a radical newspaper called Correspondence. There, she met James Boggs, an activist whom she came to admire. They shared a passion for advancing rights for the black population, laborers, women, and other groups who did not have much power. They were married in 1953.
Grace Lee Boggs
Journey Box
At the age of 16, she started going to college. Grace was a great student and very smart. She graduated from Barnard College and continued to get her Ph. D in philosophy from Bryn Mawr. During college, she was fascinated by the writings of philosophers such as Hegel and Marx. Hegel talked about how ideas must go through dramatic change over time, from one extreme to the other like a pendulum, in order for progress to happen.

Photo of Grace Lee Boggs with classmates at Barnard College, from documentary "American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs" (2013)
Raya Dunayevskaya, C.L.R. James, and Grace Lee Boggs led the Worker's Party together. They shared similar values at the time.
Artifact 5: Grace & James
Changing of Strategies
At the earlier part of their activism, Grace and James supported the ideas of Malcolm X. He believed that using violence to fight against unfair rules and people was the answer. They organized marches and protests against things that were unfair.

Later, they began to adopt Martin Luther King Jr.'s perspective. He believed in nonviolence and how people's minds need to be changed, not just their actions. Together, they wrote books and articles to show people that change needed to happen. They also founded Detroit Summer, an organization that helped to make communities better.
Artifact 6: Detroit Summer
The Young Can Make the Difference
Artifact 8: Connecting with the future
Grace Lee Boggs thought of ways to help the community. This was one of her projects to give people some jobs. She valued what the people had to say no matter how young they were.
Grace Lee Boggs especially believed in the capability of young people to make a difference. She would give speeches to students and have conversations with them. She believed that because young people were the future, they were the ones with the power to change the world.
"We have the opportunity; we have the challenge in this period to create a new humanity, to create a new society, to create a whole new paradigm of education.
We have to think of young people and education not as a problem but as a solution. We have to enlist them in the solutions to the problems of our communities. That's a whole new way of reimagining youth and the relationships between generations.
[It's] an enormous challenge, and enormous task. Now, where do we go from here?"
"Young people greet Grace Lee Boggs following her lecture at the Detroit Historical Museum. Standing is Myrtle Thompson Curtis, co-founder of the Feed’om Freedom Growers who have led development of community gardens in the city."
Artifact 7:
Reimagine Everything
"Well, I had no idea what I was gonna do after I got my degree in philosophy in 1940. But what I did know was at that time,
if you were a Chinese-American, even department stores wouldn't hire you. They'd come right out and say, "We don't hire Orientals."
And so the idea of my getting a job teaching in a university and so forth was really ridiculous. And I went to Chicago and I got a job in the philosophy library there for $10 a week, And so I found a little old Jewish woman right near the university who took pity on me and said I could stay in her basement rent-free. The only obstacle was that I had to face down a barricade of rats in order to get into her basement. And at that time,
in the black communities, they were beginning to protest and struggle against rat-infested housing. So I joined one of the tenants' organizations and thereby came in touch with the black community for the first time in my life.
Artifact 3: Making Decisions
"Had I not been born female and Chinese American, I would not have realized from early on that fundamental changes were necessary in our society."
• What were some major parts of Grace Lee Bogg's identity?
• How did her identity affect her?
• What kinds of changes did she want to happen?
Source: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/10.5250/fronjwomestud.36.2.0092.pdf?acceptTC=true
fundamental: relating to the basis or source
• What kind of people are in this picture?
• Can you tell which one is Grace? How do you know?
• Where are they standing?
• Why was this picture taken?
Source: http://www.pbs.org/pov/americanrevolutionary
• When did these events occur and why is that important?
• What factors and experiences prompted her to take action?
• Why did she join the black community in protest?
• How did her Chinese American identity affect her life?
Source: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/06152007/watch3.html
Quote from Grace Lee Boggs (age 91) in an interview with Bill Moyer. He asked her about the process from which she came from a Chinese family that owned a Chinese restaurant to becoming a social activist side-by-side with the black community. She experienced unfair treatment in getting a job because she was Chinese. After moving into a new home and finding the same rat problem as many other people, she joined them to protest it.
Philosophy: study of beliefs and truths of being, knowledge, behavior, thought
barricade: barrier that blocks from passing
Infested: to have many things live in a place, which is troublesome or unwanted
Tenant: someone who rents and lives in a place for some time
Grace Lee Boggs and James Boggs on their porch in 1974
Source: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/06152007/photoessay/7.html
"When I asked him to dance, he declined because, as he said, he had already made clear to the comrades in Detroit that he 'didn't come around the radical movement to get himself a woman.'"
– Grace Lee Boggs, Living for Change: An Autobiography
• Who are these people?
• What is their relationship with each other?
• How are they feeling?
"When he rose to speak his mind, he would speak with such passion, challenging all within hearing to stretch their humanity ... he would often bring down the house," Boggs wrote in 1998 in her autobiography, Living For Change.
A year before Jimmy Boggs died in 1993, he and Grace co-founded Detroit Summer. There might not be many jobs anymore, they said. But there's lots to work to get done.
Houses to restore, gardens to plant, murals to be painted. Julia Putnam was the first teenager to sign up for Detroit Summer.
'The first conversation I remember having with Grace was when I was sitting with a group of my friends and we were talking about something frivolous – I don’t remember.
She sat down and said, 'so how are we going to solve the problem of vacant homes in Detroit?' Something really profound and difficult and complex. And it was very clear to me that she really thought we had something to say about it and she really wanted to hear it
,' Putnam recalled."
• What was Grace and James' solution to joblessness?
• How did Grace interact with teenagers?
• How did this affect teenagers like Julia?
Source: http://michiganradio.org/post/remembering-detroits-grace-lee-boggs#stream/0
Table of Contents
Growing Up: The Problem Only Gets Worse
Artifact 1: Background
Artifact 2: Barnard College
The Struggle
Artifact 3: Making Decisions
Finding Hope
Artifact 4: Allies
Two is Better than One

Artifact 5: Grace & James
Changing Strategies
Artifact 6
Artifact 7: Detroit Summer
The Young Can Make the Difference
Artifact 8: Reimagine Everything
Artifact 9: Connecting with the Future
To the Sojourner: This journey takes you through the life of Grace Lee Boggs, but it is not just a biography. We will see the change in her thinking and ideas about society and fairness, how she acted on her beliefs, and how that changed the lives of many. I hope that you will also think about what you know and believe about these things and how they affect how you live. Maybe her life will touch yours on this journey.
What is similar about these people? What is different?
What is their relationship with each other?
Why are they in a photograph together?
Source: http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/06/27/417175523/grace-lee-boggs-activist-and-american-revolutionary-turns-100
Not an Ending
Grace Lee Boggs died on October 5, 2015 at the age of 100. Until the day she died, she represented and defended people who did not have a voice.

Her life impacted many people. A filmmaker named Grace Lee made a documentary about her called "American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs." For 8 years, she wrote for a weekly column in the Michigan Citizen, a newspaper in Detroit. The James and Grace Lee Boggs School, a community-based charter school, was formed in honor of them. The school would address issues that Grace had brought to light, like poverty and injustice.

Her story may be over, but what she has done has left a permanent mark on the course of history of the Black community, the Asian community, laborers, women, and many others. She believed in change and moving forward.
What does Grace want to happen in the future?
Why were young people and education thought of as "the problem"?
How is Grace's point of view different from others' points of view?
Why is she asking people to change the way they think about youth?
Source: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41806667
Enlist: to engage or gain someone's support
• Who are the people in the picture?
• What is happening in this picture?
• How are the people feeling? Why?
• What brought the people together into this scene?
Artifact 9: James and Grace Lee Boggs School
Source: http://www.tellusdetroit.com/diversity/grace-lee-boggs-book-signing-021612.html
Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-m-de-palma/the-boggs-school-celebrates-oral-history-project_b_6337808.html
Who are the people in the picture?
What kind of people are there?
Why are they taking a photograph together?
How do they feel? Why?
How does this relate to Grace Lee Boggs?
The Boggs School Oral History Club meeting in December 2014. They interviewed members in the community and explored history, making connections between culture, education, and themselves.
Source: https://www.slantnews.com/story/2015-10-06-civil-rights-activist-grace-lee-boggs-dies-at-100
Original sources are linked on each artifact and all sources are referenced at the end
Aguilar-San Juan, K. (n.d.). “We Are Extraordinarily Lucky to Be Living in These Times”: A Conversation with Grace Lee Boggs. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 36(2), 92-123. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from JSTOR.

Boggs, G. (2012). Reimagine Everything. Race, Poverty & the Environment, 19(2), 44-45. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from JSTOR.

Boscolo, A. (2015, October 6). Civil Rights Activist Grace Lee Boggs Dies At 100. Retrieved November 9, 2015, from https://www.slantnews.com/story/2015-10-06-civil-rights-activist-grace-lee-boggs-dies-at-100

Carlisle, R. (Ed.). (2005). Worker's Party. In Encyclopedia of Politics: The Left and the Right (Vol. 1, pp. 494-495). California: SAGE Publications.

Chow, K. (2015, June 27). Grace Lee Boggs, Activist And American Revolutionary, Turns 100. Retrieved October 20, 2015, from http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/06/27/417175523/grace-lee-boggs-activist-and-american-revolutionary-turns-100

Lee, G. (2014, June 30). American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs. Retrieved September 26, 2015, from http://www.pbs.org/pov/americanrevolutionary

Palma, L. (2014, December 17). The Boggs School Oral History Project: Linking Youth and Elders to the Past, Present and Future. Retrieved November 14, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-m-de-palma/the-boggs-school-celebrates-oral-history-project_b_6337808.html

Rosen, Z. (2015, October 5). Remembering Detroit's Grace Lee Boggs. Retrieved October 20, 2015, from http://michiganradio.org/post/remembering-detroits-grace-lee-boggs#stream/0

Samuels, K. (n.d.). Grace Lee Boggs author of “The Next American Revolution” Speaks Out. Retrieved September 26, 2015, from http://www.tellusdetroit.com/diversity/grace-lee-boggs-book-signing-021612.html

Wang, F., & Lee, T. (2015, October 5). Activist, Civil Rights Icon Grace Lee Boggs Dies at 100. Retrieved October 13, 2015, from http://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/activist-civil-rights-icon-grace-lee-boggs-dies-100-n438781

Vacant: empty
Profound: deep, insightful, knowledegeable
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