Grace Lee Boggs was a Chinese American civil rights and labor activist, focused on Detroit, where she collaborated with her husband, James Boggs.
Born in 1915 to Chinese immigrants, she grew up in New York, confronting racism.
Educated at Barnard College and Bryn Mawr, Boggs faced employment discrimination due to her ethnicity.
Her activism began in Chicago, advocating for tenants’ and workers’ rights and she played a role in the proposed 1941 March on Washington. Joining the Johnson-Forest Tendency, a Marxist-Humanist group, she worked closely with C. L. R. James, refining her social theories.
In Detroit, she and James were influential in grassroots activism, supporting worker and civil rights.
Boggs’ perspective shifted from pure revolution to being a “solutionary”, focusing on community and personal transformation over violent protest.
She co-founded Detroit Summer, a youth empowerment program. Her later years saw her championing civic reforms and educational initiatives. Boggs passed away in 2015.
I have picked the top quotes by Grace Lee Boggs for you.
Best Grace Lee Boggs Quotes
The most radical thing I ever did was to stay put. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
I believe that we are at the point now, in the United States, where a movement is beginning to emerge. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
You don’t choose the times you live in, but you do choose who you want to be. And you do choose how you think. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
What time is it on the clock of the world? ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
Don’t get stuck in old ideas. Keep recognizing that reality is changing and that your ideas have to change. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
Building community is to the collective as spiritual practice is to the individual. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
The struggle we’re dealing with these days, which, I think, is part of what the 60s represented, is how do we define our humanity? ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
This capitalist society has not lasted forever; it’s only a few hundred years old. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
The physical threat posed by climate change represents a crisis that is not only material but also profoundly spiritual at its core because it challenges us to think seriously about the future of the human race and what it means to be a human being. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
Famous Grace Lee Boggs Quotes
A revolution that is based on the people exercising their creativity in the midst of devastation is one of the great historical contributions of humankind. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
People in Detroit aren’t just urban gardening. They’re starting a new mode of education. They’re trying to give children the education to be solutionaries rather than people who are going to get jobs in the system. And that is a huge change, a cultural revolution. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
It’s really important that we get rid of the idea that protest will create change. We don’t realize that that kind of organizing worked only when the government was very strong, when the West ruled the world, relatively speaking. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
Love isn’t about what we did yesterday; it’s about what we do today and tomorrow and the day after. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
The main reason why Western civilization lacks Spirituality, or an awareness of our interconnectedness with one another and the universe, according to Gandhi, is that it has given priority to economic and technological development over human and community development. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
The nation-state became powerful in the wake of the French Revolution, whereas the nation-state has become powerless in light of globalization. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
Top Grace Lee Boggs Quotes
You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
Some people are afraid of gentrification, but what I see is young people want to live in a different world. And they see possibilities here. They see that rents are relatively cheap compared to places like New York and California. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
Every crisis, actual or impending, needs to be viewed as an opportunity to bring about profound changes in our society. Going beyond protest organizing, visionary organizing begins by creating images and stories of the future that help us imagine and create alternatives to the existing system. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
We are beginning to understand that the world is always being made fresh and never finished; that activism can be the journey rather than the arrival; that’s struggle doesn’t always have to be confrontational but can take the form of reaching out to find common ground with the many others in our society who are also seeking ways out from alienation, isolation, privatization, and dehumanization by corporate globalization. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
We’re at a great transition point in terms of population, demographics, and what it means to be a human being. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
We need to undergo a very radical revolution in values. And we need to think about what it’s like to have become so materialistic that we think having a good job, and consuming like crazy to compensate for the dehumanization of the job, is living like a human being. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
Popular Grace Lee Boggs Quotes
With the end of empire, we are coming to an end of the epoch of rights. We have entered the epoch of responsibilities, which requires new, more socially-minded human beings and new, more participatory and place-based concepts of citizenship and democracy. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
Talk and write in a way that encourages the mutual exchange of ideas and acts like a midwife to people birthing their own ideas. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
History is not the past. It is the stories we tell about the past. How we tell these stories – triumphantly or self-critically, metaphysically or dialectally – has a lot to do with whether we cut short or advance our evolution as human beings. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
The only way to survive is by taking care of one another. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
I think at the time, my radicalization was not through growing up Chinese, but through the role that the black people were playing at the beginning of World War II, when they had started the Double V for “Victory” movement – for democracy at home as well as abroad. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
We never know how our small activities will affect others through the invisible fabric of our connectedness. In this exquisitely connected world, it’s never a question of ‘critical mass.’ It’s always about critical connections. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
Wise Grace Lee Boggs Quotes
Nonviolence is based on recognizing that all of us are human beings. And at a certain point we begin to learn that you don’t gather very much by making enemies out of people and not recognizing their humanity. Nonviolence is essentially based on recognizing the humanity in every one one of us. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
I’m sorry, but I think if we stick to those categories of race, class and gender, we are stuck. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
Well, I would say that we’ve got to redefine democracy, that we have been stuck in concepts of representative democracy, that we believe that it’s getting other people to do things for us that we progress. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
I have learned to savor every minute of time with my four year old daughter not only because I know how quickly children grow up but also because I have no idea what state the world will be in when she is my age. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
I think that deep in our hearts we know that our comforts, our conveniences are at the expense of other people. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
A rebellion is something that is developing as an explosion coming out of the righteous grievances of a community of people. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
How do we redefine education so that 30-50 percent of inner-city children do not drop out of school, thus ensuring that millions will end up in prison? ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
I think our concept of revolution, in terms of getting the power to do things, is too focused on the state. We have a scenario of revolution that first, you know, comes from 1917, that first you take the state power, and then you change things. And we don’t realize it’s collapsed. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
Thought-Provoking Grace Lee Boggs Quotes
I think that rebellions arise out of anger, and they’re very short-lived. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
It takes time for change to take place. But then when huge changes are taking place, they are extraordinary. And it requires a kind of philosophical thinking, thinking in terms of epochs. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
Movements are born of critical connections rather than critical mass. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
I think we’re not looking sufficiently at what is happening at the grassroots in the country. We have not emphasized sufficiently the cultural revolution that we have to make among ourselves in order to force the government to do differently. Things do not start with governments. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
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. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
If we want to see change in our lives, we have to change things ourselves. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
I was a Chinese American, an ethnic minority so small as to be almost invisible. He was an African American who was very conscious that the blood and sweat of his ancestors had made possible the rapid economic development of this country and who had already embarked on the struggle to ensure that his people would be among those deciding its economic and political future. ~ Grace Lee Boggs.
So these were the 43 top Grace Lee Boggs quotes and sayings.