cross-posted from the Three O’Clock Press blog
Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing information about the amazing contributors to Letters Lived: Radical reflections, revolutionary paths. To kick it off, we’re taking a look at the life and work of the incredible Grace Lee Boggs, who wrote the book’s foreword. (NOTE: We could easily fill the entirety of the internet with writings about this amazing woman, but this is just a super small look. For further reading, we’ve provided links below.)
The timing for us to talk about Grace Lee Boggs could not be more perfect. A new documentary about Boggs’ life and work is being released this month, entitled American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs (more info about upcoming screenings and events can be found here. For Toronto folks, there’s a free screening tonight put on by the Reel Asian Film Festival.
We can’t imagine a more worthy subject for a film: not only has she been a passionate, revolutionary writer and activist for more than 70 years, at 98, Boggs’ commitment to her work continues. We are beyond honoured and thankful that she contributed her words to the Letters Lived project.
By way of some background: Born in 1915 Grace Lee was known in the 1940s and 1950s for her political collaboration with Afro-Trinidadian theorist, historian, writer and activist C.L.R. James. In 1953, she married African American auto worker and activist James Boggs, and they moved to Detroit—the city which would become the focus of much of their activism, specifically community activism, for decades to come.
In her foreword to Letters Lived, Boggs speaks to the intergenerational context her elders provided for her own activism, one that was both “nurturing and challenging.” Boggs goes on to write that by the 1980s, as she and James organized against youth violence in Detroit, they became “acutely aware of how much the generations had become isolated from one another. Older people, especially, had become fearful and disdainful of youth.” In response to this growing separation, Grace Lee and James Boggs organised Detroit Summer, an intergenerational movement to “rebuild, redefine and respirit” the city. Through Detroit Summer, Boggs writes, they found that “young people were hungry for authentic connections with elders.”
Grace closes her foreword by writing that the ties between generations—as she has seen throughout her many decades of activism—“have been critical to our evolution as human beings.” She hopes that Letters Lived will “open up all of our thinking about the importance of these critical connections.”
More information about Grace Lee Boggs and her work:
More information about the documentary: