Grace Lee Boggs has been a thinker and doer in the social change community for over 60 years. Her career as an activist and organizer has intersected with many movements: Labor, Civil rights, Black Power, Asian American, Women’s and Environmental Justice. In her life time, not only have the concepts of revolutionary change undergone radical changes across the globe, but, as a political thinker and writer, she has always interrogated and adjusted her own thinking on how to realize social change.
As she writes in a recent article in The Other Side, “In the 1960s I didn’t pay much attention to Martin Luther King, Jr…Thinking back over these years, I can’t help wondering…is it possible that our relationships with one another today, not only inter but intra-racially, would be more harmonious if we had discovered how to blend Malcolm X’s militancy with King’s vision of the beloved community.” It is in this spirit that Grace and others founded Beloved Communities: Growing our Souls, an initiative begun in 2004 to identify, explore, and form a network of communities committed to and practicing the profound pursuit of justice, radical inclusivity, democratic governance, health and wholeness, and social/individual transformation. Grace will discuss her interpretation of King’s concept of “beloved communities” and share more about that project.
Join the Public Square at the IHC for this conversation with Grace as she reflects on 60 years of social change movements and the concurrent evolution of her own thinking. Helen Jun, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Minkah Makalani, Assistant Professor of History at Rutgers University (more about Helen and Minkah below), will moderate the discussion.
More about our speakers:
The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Grace Lee Boggs was born in 1915 in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1940 after receiving a Ph.D. in philosophy from Bryn Mawr College, she moved to Chicago and became a movement activist after coming into contact with the March on Washington movement. In subsequent years, she moved to Detroit and became a leading member of socialist, Black, and Asian liberation struggles. Now in her 90th year, she writes a weekly column for theMichigan Citizen, works with multi-ethnic Detroit Summer Collective, and otherwise remains an active member of the Detroit community. Click here for an archive of her articles in the Michigan Citizen.
Helen Jun engages in comparative analyses of race and culture in the context of U.S. empire. She specializes in Asian American and African American literature and history, with emphasis on issues of citizenship, nationalism, U.S. imperialism in Asia, globalization, and the prison industrial complex. She has recently completed a study of how Asian Americans and African Americans have been racially defined in relation to each other in her dissertation, “Race for Citizenship; Asian American and African American Cultural Politics.”
Minkah Makalani is Assistant Professor of History at Rutgers University whose research interests are black radicalism, nationalism, the African diaspora, and social movements. His current project is a history of the African Blood Brotherhood and their internationalist Pan-Africanist program for organizing around race, class, and national oppression during the New Negro Movement.
For more information, contact the Public Square at the IHC at 312.422.5580.