Grace Boggs is an internationally respected scholar/activist who has been active in the struggle for many years. She was married to auto worker and activist James (Jimmy) Boggs. James was also a well-respected activist/author. Racism and the Class Struggle: Further Pages from a Black Worker’s Notebook. Her thoughts appear below. She posted this late February and early March. RGN
Wikipedia says of Grace:
Grace Lee Boggs is an activist, writer and speaker whose more than sixty years of political involvement encompass the major U.S. social movements of this century: Labor, Civil rights, Black Power, Asian American, Women's and Environmental Justice.
In 1992, with James Boggs, Shea Howell and others, she founded
Her autobiography, Living for Change, published by the
For her contributions, she has received numerous awards.
Grace Lee Boggs, “The Authenticity of Obama’s Leadership”
Michigan Citizen, Feb. 24-Mar. 1, 2008
My eyes and ears are riveted to TV. I can’t get enough of Obama’s calling upon Americans of all ages, all walks of life, all faiths, all abilities, all sexual orientations, all political leanings, to stop thinking like victims and start believing that we have the power within ourselves to create the world anew.
“I am asking you to believe not only in my ability to bring about change in
Obama is providing the authentic, visionary leadership we need in this period when our challenges are so great and our politics (as he puts it in The Audacity of Hope) so small.
That kind of leadership is very precious.
26 year-old MLK provided it in 1955 when he inspired
Jimmy Boggs anticipated it when he said in his last speech to
Liberals and radicals tend to be skeptical of this kind of leadership. Viewing society as a laundry list of problems, liberals promise solutions. Radicals, having concluded that another world is necessary, begin to lose hope that another world is possible when only a few people show up for their meetings.
Obama does not promise solutions. He doesn’t view people as masses. Out of his experiences as a community organizer and his dialectical/historical appreciation of movement building in the
As he put it in a 1995 interview:
"What we need in
"We have no shortage of moral fervor, In every church on Sunday in the African-American community we have fervor. .But as soon as church lets out, the energy dissipates. The biggest failure of the civil rights movement was in failing to translate this moral fervor into creating lasting institutions and organizational structures…
“How do we rebuild our schools? How do we rebuild our communities? How do we create safer streets? What concretely can we do together to achieve these goals?”
“For our agenda to work, we can't see voters or communities as consumers, as mere recipients or beneficiaries of this change. It's time for politicians and other leaders to see voters, residents or citizens as producers of this change. The thrust of our organizing must be the whole agenda of creating productive communities. That is where our future lies…
"The right wing talks about this but they keep appealing to that old individualistic bootstrap myth: get a job, get rich, and get out. Our goal must be to help people get a sense of building something larger…
"People are hungry for community, hungry for change…
"What if a politician were to see his job as that of an organizer, as part teacher and part advocate, one who does not sell voters short but who educates them about the real choices before them? As an elected public official, I could bring church and community leaders together easier than I could as a community organizer or lawyer. We would come together to form concrete economic development strategies, take advantage of existing laws and structures, and create bridges and bonds within all sectors of the community. We must form grass-root structures that would hold me and other elected officials more accountable for their actions…
"The right wing, the Christian right, has done a good job of building these organizations of accountability, much better than the left or progressive forces have. But it's always easier to organize around intolerance, narrow-mindedness, and false nostalgia. And they also have hijacked the higher moral ground with this language of family values and moral responsibility…
"Now we have to take these same values that are encouraged within our families--of looking out for one another, of sharing, of sacrificing for each other--and apply them to a larger society. Let's talk about creating a society, not just individual families, based on these values. Right now we have a society that talks about the irresponsibility of teens getting pregnant, not the irresponsibility of a society that fails to educate them to aspire for more."
That is what Detroit–City of Hope is about.
Grace Lee Boggs writings appear at: http://www.boggscenter.org
More on Obama: http://www.chicagoreader.com/obama/951208/ & http://www.edwoj.com/Alinsky/AlinskyObamaChapter1990.htm