Woman Power at the 2010 U.S. Social Forum
On day four of the USSF, a few of us from WILPF joined hundreds in celebrating the 95th birthday of Grace Lee Boggs. Grace is a philosopher, a feminist and a community organizer who has lived and worked in Detroit with her (now deceased) husband Jimmy Boggs, since 1953. (Grace is the same age as WILPF, and we wanted to give her a bouquet and claim her as a sister, which we did after the ceremony). It was through hearing the loving accolades and songs and poems that Grace has inspired that helped me understand the powerful culture of resistance and creativity that she has helped create within the shell of abandoned capitalism in Detroit. I would guess that the Social Forum might not have taken place in Detroit were it not for the long-term organizing and community building spearheaded by the Boggs.
Seated in a wheelchair in a large room at the Cobo Center, she traced her life, from the first birthday that she remembered, to today. One could tell that her studies of Hegel, her translations of Karl Marx, and her work in the 40’s and 50’s with the Caribbean writer CLR James were vivid experiences that continue to guide her thoughts and actions today.
I remember in the early 90’s when the Boggs issued a call for activists around the country to join them for “Detroit Summer”. This started as a process to nurture youth activism, and it’s still going strong. Grace reflected on two delegations of young people attending the USSF with whom she had met: “I hope they understand from Detroit that all of us, each of us, can become a cultural creative. ... We are creating a new culture. And we’re not doing it because we are such wonderful people. We’re doing it because we had to, not only to survive materially, but to survive as human beings.”
From urban gardens to collective businesses to electric cars, Detroit is beginning to chart an alternative path. This summer the young people of Detroit Summer are working on a mural on the theme “another Detroit is happening” together with the Beehive Collective, a cultural workers collective from Maine.
---This article was excerpted from the blog of Robin Lloyd, WILPF Development Chair