What Grace Lee Boggs Taught Me


Yesterday morning, philosopher and social justice activist Grace Lee Boggs died at the age of 100.

Born Chinese in America in 1915, Grace was a fierce leader in the labor, civil rights, Black Power, women’s, Asian American, environmental justice, and antiwar movements.

It was my privilege to share the stage with Grace a few years ago when she came to San Francisco for a special screening of the documentary about her life, “American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs.”

The capacity crowd at the Castro Theatre was on its feet as Grace closed the evening with a pressing call for both reflection and action in the urgent struggle to define and save our humanity.

With her passing, activists took to social media to share the lessons that Grace Lee Boggs taught them using the hashtag #‎GraceLeeTaughtMe.

Here’s what I wrote:

What did Grace Lee Boggs teach me?
She taught me how to ask what time it was on the clock of the world.
She taught me that we have to change the way we see ourselves in this world, and what it means to think, work, live, and love.
She taught me that those seeking only to seize power from the state become the state.
She taught me that real revolution can include that but goes much further.
She taught me to strive for relationships that are transformational not transactional.
She taught me to see myself not as a victim but as someone who could create a more expansive and enlightened view of humanity.
She taught me to beware the hunger for messianic leadership.
She taught me how we can all be the leaders we are waiting for.
She taught me that our histories begin before we are born.
She taught me that we have the power to write the next chapter.
She taught me that growing the economy is not the same as growing our souls.
She taught me that we have to grow our souls. She taught me to build the beloved community.
And by example, she taught me that it is possible to be a revolutionary model of humanity.

Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Grace Lee Boggs.