Meet the Chinese-American activist Grace Lee Boggs
Born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1915, Chinese-American activist Grace Lee Boggs earned long-lasting respect from activists like Malcolm X, Angela Davis, and other leaders. She was a leader in labor and feminist movements. In the early decades of the twentieth century, her writing earned her a Ph.D. in philosophy from Barnard College. After earning her Ph.D., she pursued a career in political activism.
Her life story is complex and surprisingly unorthodox, and her career spans decades. She spent her early childhood in Missouri and moved to New York in the 1980s. She began interviewing African American and Asian American women as a guest segment anchor on 24 Oras Weekend Edition. Later, she anchored a cooking reality show called Eateria, which aired on the GMA Network. After her departure from GMA in August 2012, Lee joined the Good Morning Club, which airs on the network on weekdays.
Her experiences inspired her to become a radical, anti-racist activist. In the 1940s, she worked in a Chinese restaurant in Providence. Her mother was a strong feminist role model. In the 1950s, she moved to Detroit and founded the James and Grace Lee Boggs School, which educates black children. In 2013, she founded the Detroit Summer festival, which draws volunteers from across the country to transform vacant lots into community gardens. In addition to organizing community gardens, Boggs co-founded several music festivals, and opened a private school named for her.
A pioneer of social psychology, Grace Lee Boggs was born in New York City. She was inspired by German philosophers Hegel and Kant. She graduated from Barnard College in 1935 with a degree in philosophy. During the Depression, she organized protests against slum housing in Chicago and Detroit. In 1940, she earned her doctorate in philosophy at Bryn Mawr College. The next year, she published her first book, “George Herbert Mead: A Sociologist’s Guide to Human Nature.”
While she was a social activist in Chicago, she also became a part of the Workers Party. She married a black auto worker, who died in 1993. In 1953, she moved to Detroit and was active in the tenant’s rights movement. In the 1960s, she began working in Detroit’s public housing projects. During this time, she participated in the March on Washington. After her husband’s death, she married another black autoworker.
In 1955, Grace Lee and Jimmy Boggs moved to Detroit, where the Johnsonite movement was flourishing. In the 1960s, she joined the movement and married fellow Johnsonite, Jimmy Boggs. Together, they organized protests and rallied against discrimination and promoted full employment. In addition, she was an influential voice in the Black Power Movement and a leader of the Johnsonite comrades. By this time, she was already well-known in the community.