PERSPECTIVE: What is Grace Lee Bogg’s American Revolution?

Civil rights activist and writer Grace Lee Boggs was born in Providence, Rhode Island to Chinese immigrant parents. After graduating from Barnard College and completing her PhD in Bryn Mawr, she initially espoused Marxist ideas for social and economic changes. She then underwent an ideological evolution starting with her participation in black revolutionary movements, and later to Detroit neighborhood organization and educational reform.

Initially attracted to Malcolm X’s strident approach to gaining black power, she later found Martin Luther King’s non-violent civil rights strategy a more sustainable basis for gradual revolution and creative evolution for social change.

Later in life, Boggs taught a new generation of activists: “You begin with the protest, but you have to move on from there. Just being angry, just being resentful, just being outraged, does not constitute revolutionWhy is non-violence such an important philosophy? Because it respects the capacity of human beings to grow and gives us some of the opportunity to grow our souls. We owe that to each other.” [PBS POV: American Revolutionary]

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