Grace Lee Boggs: The Evolution of a Revolutionary

glb-480x320Grace Lee Boggs is an American treasure. She also happens to be an author, a feminist, and a lifelong activist for social change. And, with Boggs, “lifelong” means just that as she turned 98 on June 27.

As a young firebrand in the 1940s and 1950s, Boggs worked alongside C.L.R. James and Raya Dunayevskaya before partnering — romantically and politically — with auto worker/activist James Boggs in 1953. Her marriage, along with a long-standing involvement with the Workers Party, caused Boggs to dedicate herself to creating social change within the African-American community in her adopted hometown of Detroit, Michigan. Through her activism, Boggs also found herself supporting the early work of folks like Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to further solidify her credentials in the field.

Over the course of her career, Boggs has authored five books, including one autobiography. Her most recent effort, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century, was published in 2011. This year, Boggs is the focus of the American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs documentary.

In her June 21 interview with Tavis Smiley, Boggs churned out pearl after pearl of hard-earned wisdom forged from the trenches of activism. Her prescription for uplifting blighted urban communities in the 21st century is simple: “Put the neighbor back in the ‘hood.” She sees her beloved Detroit as a beacon and a model for what is possible if citizens come together out of concern for their cities.

This article originally appeared on and is republished under Creative Commons.