Julia Putnam was one of the first youth participants in Detroit Summer. In the current issue of Yes! Magazine, she discusses how she got involved in 1992 and how the legacy of working with James and Grace Lee Boggs inspires her work today as an innovator of the Boggs Education Center.
My education began in 1992, although I’d already finished my sophomore year at the best high school in Detroit. I was a successful student by the standards of my family and my teachers—I had certainly learned how to get good grades. But I was 16, and I felt stuck. Stuck in a city that everyone seemed to agree had reached its heyday and was now dead—no hope of ever having beauty or vitality or relevance again. Stuck in a high school that felt empty and soulless.
Then, my friend, Mary, excitedly met me in the cafeteria.
“Did you see the couple who were here today?”
“No. What couple?”
“An Asian lady, Grace Boggs, and her husband. He was black. They were visiting classes. They started this program called Detroit Summer. You should check it out.”
Mary shoved a flier in my hand. And there it was. The call to Detroit Summer. And my real education began.