Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter – August 28th, 2017


We Have the Power to Make the World Anew. Grace Lee Boggs

America Love It Enough to Change it.

Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
August 28th, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
Beyond Trump
Shea HowellDonald Trump will not last. In two, four or eight years, he will be gone. In the meantime he will destroy people and places we hold dear. He has already done so. But his extraordinary vileness can trap us into thinking he is the problem. Rather, he is a crude, visible expression of ways of thinking and being that are normal in the United States. Yes, he is a racist, self-aggrandizing, arrogant man willing to do anything to advance his own self-interest. But so is the system that produced him.

Consider for example the recent peer review study offered by the New York Times on Exxon Mobil. After a careful review of 40 years of climate change communications, scholars found, “Exxon Mobil misled the public about the state of climate science and its implications. Available documents show a systematic, quantifiable discrepancy between what Exxon Mobil’s scientists and executives discussed about climate change in private and in academic circles, and what it presented to the general public.”

Researchers found evidence that Exxon knew very well it was lying. They document that, “Scientific reports and articles written or cowritten by Exxon Mobil employees acknowledged that global warming was a real and serious threat. They also noted it could be addressed by reducing fossil fuel use.”

In spite of this clear understanding of the dangers of climate change and the role of the fossil fuel industry in accelerating global warming, Exxon engaged in a public relations campaign to create doubt. In advertorials, “They overwhelmingly emphasized scientific uncertainties about climate change and promoted a narrative that was largely inconsistent with the views of most climate scientists, including Exxon Mobil’s own.”

The study concludes, “While we can debate the details, the overall picture is clear: Even while Exxon Mobil scientists were contributing to climate science and writing reports that explained it to their bosses, the company was paying for advertisements that told a very different tale.”

Lying, denial, violence and force are all part of doing normal business. The actions of Exxon are no different than those of any corporation pursuing profits over people, money over values.

Embedded in this logic is the fabric of racism and white supremacy. Writing in 1970 in Uprooting Racism and Racists, James Boggs explained what he called the “organic link between capitalism and racism. “Racism,” he wrote, “served the functions of primitive accumulation” and “provided both the individual capital and the labor force freed from the means of production” that allowed for the rapid accumulation of capital. He concluded, “The results of capitalist accumulation are all around us. Constant revolutionizing of production, ceaselessly advancing technology, mammoth factories and, controlling this gigantic accumulation of industrial plants and fluid (finance) capital, an ever diminishing number of interlocking corporations and individuals.”

Racism enables capital to negate contradictions “only by using the colonized people in Latin America, Africa, Asia and inside the United States Itself.”

Donald Trump is not some aberration. He is the logical product of a system that depends on dehumanization, violence, and destruction.

We must say No to Trump at every turn. No is essential to affirm our own humanity, but it is not enough. The task for us is to find the imagination and courage to create different ways of living that sustain and restores our communities as racial capitalism becomes increasingly unsustainable.

Ridding ourselves of Donald Trump will not end white supremacy nor will it end the violent destruction of people and places. This requires a much deeper transformation of who we are and how we live. But it is the belief that we can create communities of love, joy and sustainable, regenerative ways of living that should shape our resistance as we create the world anew.


Orange is the new Black
Russ Bellant

(originally published fall of 2016)

Fred Trump Sr. was arrested in 1927 in a fight between 100 New York City police officers and 1,000 Ku Klux Klan members during a Memorial Day parade (New York Times June 1, 1927, p. 16). It was an era of Klan growth when they fought to keep Irish, Poles, Italians, Slavs and Catholics from immigrating to the U.S. As was a common practice years ago, the newspaper published his home address as 175-24 Devonshire, Jamaica, Queens, New York City. Fred Trump had built that two story home there two years earlier and ran his real estate business from there. He married in 1936 and began a family.

In 1946 Fred’s 4th child, Donald, was born in Jamaica, Queens. He was raised in Queens in his father’s real estate/landlord business. Their practice was to rent to whites only. So determined were the Trump’s in upholding their racist practices that one of their tenants, folksinger Woodie Guthrie, wrote a poem in 1950 with lines denouncing “Old Man Trump”  and the “racial hate that he stirred up.”

A former Trump property manager told a 1963 story years after the fact of an ideal tenant applicant who was Black being refused a residence by the Trumps while the elder Trump used vulgar racist language in the discussion. Donald did not react in any way because that was the way he was raised. Years later Donald would talk about his “superior” genes, a notion handed down to him by his father. “I’m proud to have that German blood. No doubt about it. Great stuff.” His first ex-wife, Ivana, told Vanity Fair in 1990 that Donald kept a book of Hitler’s speeches at his bedside. The book was called by Hitler his second Mein Kampf.

In the same interview Ivana said that when one of Donald’s cousins would enter a room to visit Donald, he would click his heels and say “heil Hitler.” The writer wondered in print whether Ivana was trying to hint  that Donald was a “crypto-Nazi.”

Years later Donald would duck questions about support from the Klan and neo-Nazis, claiming that he did not know who they were and therefore couldn’t comment. Vice Presidential running mate Mike Pence also used that ‘problem-doesn’t-exist’ approach in his recent debate. But the Klan rallies and websites are too out in the open to not know. Every Klan and neo Nazi leader interviewed across the U.S. has said that their groups are energetically supporting Trump.

Another important but unreported circle of extremist power that undergirds Trump’s campaign is the secretive Council for National Policy (CNP). Their meetings and membership lists are kept secret and members are pledged to keep it that way.

It was set up in 1981 by leaders of the John Birch Society (JBS), itself a secretive, fascistic organization, and extreme hard-line members of the Reagan Administration. It was to be an underground network of the leaders and funders of the New Right, intent on building their movement and institutionalizing its power in a major realignment of national power across the United States.  It is not a conservative voice. It seeks to end or marginalize major social institutions that support democratic society (such as public education) or that fight for and serve the underserved. It wants to create a new elite. Some of the 400 members over the years included Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Oliver North, Clark Durant (JBS family) and an assortment of Dominionist theocrats, racists and allies of the old apartheid regime. The members that were funders included the Coors brewery family, as well as the DeVos and Van Andel (Amway twins) families.  

From the current CNP roster are the top three leaders of the Trump campaign:

— Kellyanne Conway, an executive committee member of the CNP, is also the campaign                                                                                                                      
   manager for Donald Trump.

— David Bossie, president of Citizens United, is the deputy campaign manager.

–Steve Bannon, head of Breitbart News, is the campaign CEO.

Other CNP members serve as campaign advisers, such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family, and US Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Sessions once said that he thought there was nothing wrong with the Klan until he found out they were “smoking pot.”

Bossie’s Citizen United was the plaintiff in a Supreme Court decision that helped finish off restraints on campaign finance reform. For more on him see the Bossie attachment on this email.

Campaign CEO Steve Bannon is the guy that excites the nazis like David Duke. When Bannon became CEO, Duke proclaimed with overstatement that “we have taken over the Republican Party.”

According to a former staffer at Breitbart News, when Bannon took over after the passing of Andrew Breitbart, the news organization began “pushing white ethno-nationalism.” They promote so-called “alt-right” voices of racialist writers such as Jared Taylor and Peter Brimelow. Taylor for several years headed the Council of Conservative Citizens, which sought to reintroduce segregation in the South and uphold the old Confederacy and later Jim Crow policies. Taylor serves as a unifier of white supremacy in the South.

Bringing money into the mix is Kellyanne Conway, whose ties to Wall Street financier Robert Mercer gives her standing. Mercer also funds Bannon’s Breitbart News and the Donald Trump campaign.

Any analysis of the consequences of the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency would not only look at the policies and personalities of his eight year incumbency. It’s long term significance was the network of power built up through overt action and covert networks. The enduring power of the extreme evangelical rightwing aided by covert dollars mattered. So did the covert funding of racialist organizations (see my book, Old Nazis, the New Right and the Republican Party, that I emailed to all last year).

If Trump is elected, his politics will overtly build up the hate movement region by region. But his election would also lay foundations for building up the groups that support him, so that they endure and exercise more power. The CNP knows how to do it.

In addition to the above critique, Trump’s deeply flawed character, imbecilic statements, and very flawed vice presidential running mate are compelling reasons to not vote for Trump, and to persuade others to not vote for the “Orange is the new Black” candidate.

IMG_0418Hello all. I am pleased to share some justice narrative work that I am currently doing around police brutality, the school to prison pipeline, and justice system accountability with a new organization that is under the leadership of Alia Harvey-Quinn.

FORCE is dedicated to connecting impacted people to opportunities to create justice oriented policies and solutions.
So…friend FORCE Detroit on Face Book, follow @ForceDetroit on Twitter and Force_Detroit on Instagram too!


With the last month of summer upon us, the Perry Ave Community Farm is flourishing and the Commons is bustling with visitors. This summer, we have welcomed nearly 1,000 visitors from down the block, across the city and around the world. Our dedicated staff and interns have worked tirelessly to continue transforming the Commons and the fruits of their labor include new built projectsa revamped website, and a more bountiful harvest than ever before. Check out more news from our friends at Sweet Water.
grace lee boggs PAYS 1
What We’re Reading

How About Erecting Monuments to the Heroes of Reconstruction?Richard Valelly

Given the sheer number of Confederate memorials, there is bound to be another shocking flashpoint of the kind that rocked Charlottesville and the nation. Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee have vanished from Baltimore and New Orleans. Chief Justice Roger Taney, who authored the truly infamous part of the Dred Scott decision, is gone from Annapolis. So many have come down—or are up for possible removal—that The New York Times posted an interactive map to chart them all.


But there is an alternative politics of memory that Americans can also practice, and it might help to keep fascists out of public squares and do something concrete, literally at the same time: honor Reconstruction. Remembering Reconstruction ought not to shunt aside the politics of Confederate memorials. Yet remembering this pivotal era certainly deserves to be built into the new national politics of memory.


Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.
Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:

You can contribute directly at our website:  –  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership


3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214