By Eelisa Jones
Riverwest’s People’s Book Cooperative, 804 E. Center St., hosted a complimentary viewing of “American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs” last Saturday, April 11.
Twenty people gathered in the bookstore’s cozy space to view the 82- minute documentary about the Chinese-American civil rights activist who – in the words of a laughing Angela Davis – “did more for the black movement than most black people did.”
Grace Lee Boggs is a philosopher, author, civil rights activist, and youth advocate.
She is currently 99 years old. Boggs launched her activist career in the 1930’s after an introduction to Hegelian philosophy and Marxism at Bernard College in New York.
In 1940, Boggs came face-to-face with the black American struggle.
In the early 1950s, Boggs split with the American Marxist movement and joined the “Negro Revolution” with a belief that the empowerment of black Americans was the nation’s next greatest revolution.
At one point during her involvement, Boggs famously said that black Americans were not trying to become equal to white Americans, but equal to an idea they have of themselves.
Boggs initially sympathized more with Malcolm X’s militant approach as opposed to the non-violent doctrine of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Later in her career, she realized the need to reconcile the two stances.
Boggs warned against the idolization of movement leaders, claiming that sustainable change can only emerge from the people and not just one individual.
Musicians KT Rush and Jess Gonzalez, both members of Milwaukee’s Universal Love Band, preceded Saturday’s viewing with performances of two original songs.
The last song, entitled “A Quiet Revolution,” was written as a tribute to Boggs.