Remembering Grace Lee Boggs and the Revolution She Inspired in Us

YES! has put together a tribute page to honor Grace Lee Boggs and the lives she touched while she was with us. Share your own thoughts with #RememberingGrace.

Editor’s note: We at YES! were saddened to learn that our dear friend and long-time collaborator Grace Lee Boggs passed away on Monday. Here, we offer some remembrances, both from our staff as well as from others who knew and loved her. We invite you share your own thoughts in the comment section below, or on social media with #RememberingGrace.

“Grace Boggs held an unshakable faith in the power of ordinary people to shape the future—especially when they come together across race, age, and all the divisions that normally separate us. Her eloquent articulation of that faith has inspired me for more than two decades. I will miss her voice and her presence. But her vision lives on in my heart—and the hearts of many, many others who will carry forth in love and struggle.”

Fran Korten. Fran is publisher of YES! Magazine.

“Grace was a great soldier in the struggle for justice. Her loss is a painful one for all of us in that struggle.”

Danny Glover. Danny is an actor, film director, political activist, and YES! board member.

“Rest well, dear friend. Millions of us have been enlivened and empowered by your wisdom and spirit. We’ll keep on asking ‘What time is it on the clock of the world?’ and we’ll keep on working to create a world where ‘growing our souls, rather than the economy, is our aim.’”

Sarah van Gelder. Sarah is co-founder of YES! Magazine.

“I have such treasured memories of our conversations over the years.  Each of her words was a gift that keeps on giving.  Her legacy and spirit of ‘love and struggle’ will continue to inspire and challenge us to never tire in our efforts to bring about, what she called the [R]evolution.  RIP, Amazing Grace!”

Tanya Dawkins. Tanya is founder of the Global‐Local Links Project and a YES! board member.

For Grace Lee Boggs’ 100th Birthday  

June 26, 2015 

A long curve of life,

forging the dense tides of human strife

in one era, celebrating victory,

in another, marking time at an impasse,

and seeking a way forward.

Resilient, hardy of mind and heart,

you have outlived

the comrades you loved.

Outlived the retreats to Maine and the ocean’s

annual blessings.

Outlived there in Maine and elsewhere

the cacophony of contentious ideas,

your own cantankerous certitudes, unrelenting and venting about all the rest —

friends intent upon shaping a vision of a new America.

Outlived your beloved books, even,

whose theories you mastered —-

those pages now brown and flaking

dusting the desks and shelves

of the Field Street rooms.

These days, your persistent will,

fierce consciousness,

floats between two worlds –

this world of comrades new and old,

sliding in and out to care for you in

daily rhythms of rising, eating, sleeping;

the other one, a flood of bright, unfamiliar sightings that pull

you away for a spell, then release.

Daunted by that shifting, holy space

of your present between worlds,

I do not visit.

I send prayers, a poem, wishes for your comfort.

I do not venture to that space,

but turn to my store of memories:

moments on Field Street at the table with you, Jimmy, Stu and Max,

in churches where we met and planned so many strategies,

in circles with Detroit Summers’ young faces,

on the streets in protest against the killing of our children in drive-by shootings,

or the corruption of our neighborhoods by drugs;

in loving gatherings where we nibbled and sipped and talked philosophy and the essential roles of art, spirituality and culture.

In such moments, Grace, you gave

energy, gesture, laughter, you gave flesh and bone to the idea of revolution.

In your steadfastness we witnessed

that being a revolutionary

requires patience and faith

to walk the evolutionary path

day by day

towards the beloved community.

For your determination to live for change,

and for your agitated bravery now

in facing the change

to which you can only surrender,

you remain our treasured mentor and guide.

Aneb Kgositsile (aka Gloria House). Aneb is a poet, university professor, and political activist living in Detroit since 1967.

 100 and sap still rising

my woman asks me a poem

this morning in the midst

of our own upheavals and words

–to be offered as a monument

to a duration of hope etched

in a face of resolve

a graced bogg of burning pith

an adamantine eloquence

in a set jaw

a gift of tongue clear to

the roots of now

plowing all our fictions and derelictions

our fantasies of a new mission

with raw truths

as sharp as a spade on a clod

of black bottom

sowing seed, yet again at every

year of digging toe into the soil of

paradise valley derision, a house of

incubation on a horizon of decimation

a living womb of vision

she is a medium now for 3 generations

taking her talk in all 4 directions

elders and youngers, colors as bold as

the hunger in any eye starved by

the colonial clamor and cry

a detroit summer even in the winter

of our collapse and wondering why

a motown mama like a spirit-possession

calling every jaded desire-for-change

to full height

laughing her rebuke

muting hard logic only in the magic of compassion

like a composted cucumber transforming

brick-shard into table-top nutrition

a beloved hallowing

as simple as a gathering

in an old house

as stark as dawn

on a january street

in a detroit storm of sleet

unrelenting as jimmy boggs

heat for failing to sail

the flag of transformation

in the full wind of evolutionary revolution

as tart as an invincible tongue

shooting bullet-darts of incineration

straight through the farts of old men

high on department of correction

defecation, flushed back downtown

by a ron scott declamation

shea howell howls of alternative education

re-mediating the pollution, while

rich feldman growls of exclamation

excoriate union halls of any temptation

to whitewash

the situation today is a conflagration

the end of industrialization

apocalyptic desolation

but in the ground of the pounded down

a glimmer of a new round of

resounding sounds of a hound of vitality

on the rise


nearly disguised

as wise as a 95-year-old gaze

looking straight into the dark

and seeing the prize

that has never not started up again

. . . like a new beginning

bursting from a harsh end. 

James W. Perkinson. James is an educator, activist, and poet living and working in inner-city Detroit.

“Unlike so many other left-wing stars, [Grace] genuinely spent a lot of time encouraging others to become more sophisticated political activists and organizers, to no benefit to herself. She did not try to cultivate sycophants or followers.”

Spencer Sunshine, PhD. Spencer is an Associate Fellow at Political Research Associates.”

“Michelle and I were saddened to hear of the passing of author, philosopher, and activist Grace Lee Boggs. Grace dedicated her life to serving and advocating for the rights of others—from her community activism in Detroit, to her leadership in the Civil Rights movement, to her ideas that challenged us all to lead meaningful lives. As the child of Chinese immigrants and as a woman, Grace learned early on that the world needed changing, and she overcame barriers to do just that. She understood the power of community organizing at its core—the importance of bringing about change and getting people involved to shape their own destiny. Grace’s passion for helping others, and her work to rejuvenate communities that had fallen on hard times spanned her remarkable 100 years of life, and will continue to inspire generations to come.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Grace’s family and friends, and all those who loved her dearly.”

President Barack Obama

How did Grace Lee Boggs touch your life? Share your stories in the comment sections below or in your social media posts with #RememberingGrace.

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