Visionary Organizing

Grace Lee Boggs’ message to Occupy Wall Street from American Revolutionary.

At the age of 96, Chinese American grassroots activist, organizer, philosopher and author Grace Lee Boggs has more than seven decades of experience in Civil Rights activism, the Black Power movement, feminism, labor rights, Asian American rights, and environmental and food justice. Boggs, along with her husband and fellow activist, James Boggs, founded Detroit Summer — a multiracial, inter-generational collective based in Detroit. This collective has been working to transform communities through youth leadership, creativity and collective action for over 20 years.

Boggs notably called for a re-imagining of activism, stating in an interview with Hyphen,

I would say to a young activist, “Do visionary organizing. Turn your back on protest organizing and recognize how that leads you more and more to defensive operations, whereas visionary organizing gives you the opportunity to encourage the creative capacity in people and it’s very fulfilling.”

Grace Lee Boggs and Jimmy Boggs. Image courtesy of the Neahtawanta Research and Education Center

Grace Lee Boggs and Jimmy Boggs. Image courtesy of the Neahtawanta Research and Education Center

In addition to Detroit Summer, the Boggs Educational Center focuses on nurturing creative thinkers to contribute to their communities. Programs like these reflect her commitment to a re-imagined activism.

Similarly, organizations like the Campaign for Stronger Democracy work to encourage high levels of civilian participation in the democratic process through collaboration, transparency, and community problem solving. As Grace Lee Boggs exemplifies, grassroots organizing like this enhance social justice and encourage growth and change in our society.

You can learn more about the life of Grace Lee Boggs in the upcoming documentary American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs. You can also read more about her brand of activism in her book The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century.

by Lauren Silver

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1 Comment

  1. Rebecca McCarthy

     /  May 16, 2013

    I thought it was interesting in the video clip when Grace Lee Boggs says when being in the Occupy movement that one has to aknowledge that in their position as a protestor the ways in which one might be contributing to the system that Occupy protests. When the Occupy movement began there were stories of some of the protestors that were unemployed recent college grads getting picked up to be hired for jobs on Wall Street. I thought Lee Bogg’s makes a very poignant in that a protestor should be aware of the possible ways they might be unconsciously contributing to what they are fighting as well as dedicated to their cause.

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