Grace Lee Boggs, Social Change Evolutionary

by Ryan Garza, Feb. 2014

Grace Lee Boggs, photo by Ryan Garza  (Feb. 2014)

Social change activist, philosopher and visionary Grace Lee Boggs died on Oct. 5, 2015 at age 100. Such a life of meaning she lived! If you didn’t know of Grace, I would like to introduce you to her.

Grace endeavored to better the world in every possible way, right up to her last days. Working for social change wasn’t something that she could ever retire from. It’s who she was, for over 70 years.

Browse the quotes and links below to learn more about Grace’s fascinating life and her unique vantage point on the human condition. For lots more, visit the Boggs Center website.

“The world is waiting for a new dream… We are shaking the world with a new dream. Feel it! Guard it! Treasure it! These opportunities do not come often.”

“These are the times to grow our souls. Each of us is called upon to embrace the conviction that despite the powers and principalities bent on commodifying all our human relationships, we have the power within us to create the world anew.”

—See more quotes in my July post to mark Grace’s 100th birthday:
Grace Lee Boggs Sees a Looming “Great Sea Change


Watch the trailer for the film “American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs” 

This engaging film “plunges us into Boggs’s lifetime of vital thinking and action, traversing the major U.S. social movements of the last century.”  —From the American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs website

“…a deeply moving examination of the power of a single individual to effect change.”  —The Hollywood Reporter

President Obama’s Remembrance

“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.”  —From “Grace Lee Boggs with her mind set on change“, Michigan Chronicle, 10/5/15

Grace Lee Boggs on Remaking the World

“I think people are really looking for some way whereby we can grow our souls rather than our economy. I think that at some level, people recognize that growing our economy is destroying us. It’s destroying us as human beings, it’s destroying our planet. I think there’s a great human desire for solutions, for profound solutions—and that nothing simple will do it. It requires some very great searching of our souls.”

“People look at revolution too much in terms of power. I think revolution has to be seen more anthropologically, in terms of transitions from one mode of life to another. We have to see today in light of the transition, say, from hunting and gathering to agriculture, and from agriculture to industry, and from industry to post-industry. We’re in an epoch transition.”

“We need to do what I call visionary organizing. Recognize that in every crisis, people do not respond like a school of fish. Some people become immobilized. Some people become very angry…and other people begin to find solutions. Visionary organizers look at those people, recognize them and encourage them, and they become leaders of the future.”

—From the interview with Grace in “Small Rebellions” , Guernica Magazine, 1/15/14

Click here to watch Grace’s past appearances on Democracy Now!.

Watch her interview with Bill Moyers.

Books by Grace Lee Boggs

—> The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century
 (with Scott Kurashige)  (2012)
—> Living For Change: An Autobiography  (1998)
—> Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century
(with James Boggs)  (1974)

~ Quotes in the Spirit of Grace ~

“Never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.”
―R. Buckminster Fuller

“We’re given a choice in our lives, to make things better, or worse, or merely endure like sheep. I choose to make things better, as much as I can.”  ―Mercedes Lackey

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.”
―Robert F. Kennedy

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”  ―Mahatma Gandhi

Thank you Grace—the world is better because of your gritty determination to make it be so. I, and so many others, am left
changed by your example, vision and inspiration.

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