Grace Lee Boggs

100 years on this earth is a very long time. Just think about the number of interactions a person has with others, relationships built and broken, achievements and wins, losses and trials. The advancements you would see in 100 years, especially the last 100 years, would be mind blowing. Grace Lee Boggs lived for 100 years on this planet, and oh the things she achieved. Get ready for an inspirational read about a phenomenal human being.

Grace Lee Boggs was born in America to migrant parents from China in 1915. She received a tertiary level education, achieving a Phd in Philosophy, but was burdened by racism and discrimination as she entered her working years. Forced into poverty-stricken living conditions and finding herself becoming involved with those trying to change this, Boggs engaged with protest and radical action with those around her, including members of the black community. As time went on she met and married the love of her life, a fellow activist who by all accounts possessed charisma and authentic charm. (Source)

In reading and learning about Boggs this stood out to me:

“Grace Lee Boggs embraces a philosophy of constant questioning – not just of who we are as individuals, but of how we relate to those in our community and country, to those in other countries, and to the local and global environment.”

What an inspiring way to live your life! I believe in her approach to achieving change: small unified groups promoting positive advancements. That isn’t exclusionary, not in the way Boggs idealises it. Couple this with her promotion of thinking before acting and her version of activism (generating community involvement to better surrounds and experience) and it doesn’t feel very radical at all.

The more I grow, study and learn my understanding about how we have progressed, advanced and ultimately wilted and diminished within our societies I relate to this more and more. A country might churn out huge economic growth per capita, but what does that matter if the individuals making up that country are oppressed, discriminated against or over worked? A leader might espouse critical advancements in human rights and alter constitutions regarding the treatment of those non-heteronormative members of their communities, but what does that matter if those individuals still find themselves being beaten on the street, or not allowed to enter cafes?

Boggs contributed her thoughts and energy through writing first. Editing newsletters and engaging in the distribution of magazines, Boggs engaged with her community and generated movement. She became involved in protests and rallies and found herself in the role of community organiser and has gone on to establish foundations schools awards it goes on and on and on. Rebuilding cities through community action, speaking to young people about the merits of thinking more deeply… What a truly positive and ever-forceful human being.

Sadly Boggs passed away in 2015, but this quote really rings true to me:

“People began asking me to speak on the Asian American movement and I discovered my ignorance.”

When there is discussion about what makes the perfect leader, this is the kind of person I think should come to mind first. A person who is incredibly influential and makes waves and waves of progress, is educated and informed and knows how to generate and execute positive social movement, yet is humble enough to know that they never cease learning. They never cease expanding their understanding and challenging their thinking. If I aspire to be like anyone in this life, it is someone like Grace Lee Boggs.

Published by immskar

In an effort to make the connections across our world stronger I am writing and sharing information about individuals and groups who bound their families, communities and societies together in a way that inspires us.

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