Grace Lee Boggs to receive U-M honorary degree

Actor, playwright, songwriter and Michigan native Jeff Daniels will receive an honorary degree and will deliver the address at the University of Michigan’s Winter Commencement Dec. 20.

Also receiving honorary degrees at the 2 p.m. ceremony at Crisler Arena are: journalist Helen Thomas, a Detroit native who has served the White House press corps during 10 presidencies; Grace Lee Boggs, a labor and civil rights activist, writer and speaker from Detroit, who has been engaged in various social and political movements for more than six decades; and Edward Osborne Wilson, entomologist and biological theorist whose research on ants has led to an understanding of social behavior and interdependence.

Grace Lee Boggs will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters from the university. She has championed issues related to labor, civil rights and justice for causes such as equal treatment for African Americans, Asian Americans and women.

Boggs was born in Rhode Island to Chinese immigrant parents. By age 25 she had earned a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College and her doctorate in philosophy from Bryn Mawr College. She moved to Detroit in 1953 and married James Boggs, an African-American labor activist, writer and strategist, with whom she worked for more than 40 years.

She and others founded Detroit Summer, a multiracial, intergenerational collective, and she has been involved with the Detroit City of Hope Campaign and the Beloved Communities Initiative.

Boggs has received numerous honors, including two Lifetime Achievement Awards in 2005, from the Detroit City Council and the Michigan Women’s Federation, Michiganian of the Year by the Detroit News in 2007, a Distinguished Alumna Award by Barnard College in 2000, and several honorary degrees. She is an author and her life has been chronicled in a book published by the University of Minnesota Press.

Read more about the Winter Commencement from the University of Michigan News Service.

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