In Love and Struggle: The Revolutionary Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs

In Love and Struggle: The Revolutionary Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs

In Love and Struggle: The Revolutionary Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs

In Love and Struggle: The Revolutionary Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs

Synopsis

James Boggs (1919-1993) and Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015) were two largely unsung but critically important figures in the black freedom struggle. Born and raised in Alabama, James Boggs came to Detroit during the Great Migration, becoming an automobile worker and a union activist. Grace Lee was a Chinese American scholar who studied Hegel, worked with Caribbean political theorist C. L. R. James, and moved to Detroit to work toward a new American revolution. As husband and wife, the couple was influential in the early stages of what would become the Black Power movement, laying the intellectual foundation for racial and urban struggles during one of the most active social movement periods in recent U.S. history.

Stephen Ward details both the personal and the political dimensions of the Boggses' lives, highlighting the vital contributions these two figures made to black activist thinking. At once a dual biography of two crucial figures and a vivid portrait of Detroit as a center of activism, Ward's book restores the Boggses, and the intellectual strain of black radicalism they shaped, to their rightful place in postwar American history.

Excerpt

James and Grace Lee Boggs built a remarkable life together grounded in their shared commitment to making the next American revolution. By disposition and background, they were two very different people. They set out on disparate life trajectories and traveled distinct paths to radical politics, with little that would predict convergence. Yet, their paths crossed in the early 1950s. By that time, Grace and Jimmy had both become committed revolutionaries through participating in their respective spaces of radical politics over the preceding decade. As a couple, they reinforced the political project that each had come to separately and that emerged as the central objective of their partnered lives: apprehending the specific pathways for revolutionary transformation most appropriate for and unique to the historical moment in the United States. This shared commitment to conceptualizing a distinctly American revolution, in combination with their diverse backgrounds and experiences, allowed them to learn from each other and grow together in remarkable ways. From the beginning of their courtship in 1953 to his death in 1993, James and Grace Lee Boggs forged a unique and generative partnership sustained through their shared intellectual work and political activism.

Over these four decades, their conceptualization of revolutionary change continuously evolved. It was initially structured around a specific articulation of Marxist theory and organizational form, but by the early 1960s, the social and political struggle of African Americans, which had always been a component of their politics, overtook Marxism as their primary realm of political activity and theoretical reflection. the black struggle became the basis for their vision of an American revolution. As central and pivotal figures within a national network of black radicals during the 1950s and early 1960s, Jimmy and Grace helped develop the ideas and spaces of protest that led to the birth of the Black Power movement. Indeed, they did as much as nearly any other activist to lay the organizational and ideological . . .

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