On Monday, at the age of 100, famed activist Grace Lee Boggs died. Born to poor Chinese parents, Boggs was and remained one of the most brilliant feminist activists of the last century. She penned five books, including an autobiography and Women and the Movement to Build a New America, and was the star of the 2013 documentary American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs.
After studying philosophy in college, Boggs chose to dedicate her life to fighting for the rights of minorities and women, a journey she outlined in her autobiography, Living for Change. "Had I not been born female and Chinese American, I would not have realized from early on that fundamental changes were necessary in our society," she wrote. She ultimately married a fellow activist, James Boggs, and dedicated her life to fighting for civil rights, particularly African-American rights in Detroit. This led New American Media to wonder aloud last year (when Boggs' documentary was released), "How did a Chinese-American woman become a black power activist?"
Boggs lived and died a proud feminist. Here are some of her finest quotes about it.
"I'm sorry, but I think if we stick to those categories of race, class and gender, we are stuck." — Interview with Bill Moyers, 2007
On Other People
"The only way to survive is by taking care of one another." — Democracy Now interview, 2010
On Women's Rights' Wins
"Women’s leadership in the public sphere didn’t come from the White House or from CEOs. It came only after millions of women came together in small consciousness-raising groups to share stories of our 'second sex' lives." — Boggs' book The Next American Revolution
On Enacting Real Change
"We can begin by doing small things at the local level, like planting community gardens or looking out for our neighbors. That is how change takes place in living systems: not from above but from within, from many local actions occurring simultaneously." — PBS interview, 2007
On Changing The World
"People are aware that they cannot continue in the same old way, but are immobilized because they cannot imagine an alternative. We need a vision that recognizes that we are at one of the great turning points in human history when the survival of our planet and the restoration of our humanity require a great sea change in our ecological, economic, political, and spiritual values."
"The linkages and connections we must make if we are attempting to move toward revolutionary struggle are of the sort evoked by women of color's feminism. We all know the term ‘intersectionality’ now. And I think that radical women of color feminists, especially those whose feminism is inflected with Marxism, have produced some of the most important revolutionary ideas and strategies." — interview with Angela Davis, 2012
On Your Neighbor
"We urgently need to bring to our communities the limitless capacity to love, serve, and create for and with each other. We urgently need to bring the neighbor back into our hoods, not only in our inner cities but also in our suburbs, our gated communities, on Main Street and Wall Street, and on Ivy League campuses." — The Next American Revolution
"To make a revolution, people must not only struggle against existing institutions. They must make a philosophical/ spiritual leap and become more 'human' human beings. In order to change/transform the world, they must change/transform themselves." — Living for Change
On Choosing Your Own Path
“You don't choose the times you live in, but you do choose who you want to be, and you do choose how you want to think.” — American Revolutionary