Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015)

Grace Lee Boggs

Because she was so involved with civil and labor rights, the FBI assigned to follow her decided she was at least, partially, black. But Grace Lee Boggs—born Grace Chin Lee—was Chinese American.

Her activism defies categorization. At college, and later in graduate school, Boggs studied Hegel and Marx—she earned her Ph.D at Bryn Mawr. And with her advanced degree, she had trouble finding employment: racism against “Orientals” was strong. She moved to Chicago and worked for low wages at the University of Chicago Library, where she met C.L.R. James, the Caribbean intellectual and activist.

She followed James to New York where she collaborated with cultural innovators such as A. Phillip Randolph, Richard Wright. and Katherine Dunham, and was once a member of the Socialist Workers’ Party.

Watch: An American Revolutionary the Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs (2014)

In 1953, when she met and married African American activist and autoworker, James Lee Boggs, they moved to Detroit and settled into a life of civil rights and empowerment activism.

Boggs and her husband would continue their activism efforts and in their own city, they organized the Detroit civic organization Save Our Sons And Daughters (SOSAD), Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Gardening Angels and Detroit Summer, a “multi-racial, inter-generational collective” focused on building youth leadership.


Grace Lee Boggs, Living for Change: An Autobiography (1998)

Grace Lee Boggs, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Change for the Twenty-First Century (2012)

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