Jimmy Boggs From the NY Times Op.ed,

From the NY Times Op.ed,
“To put a final point of emphasis on the potential of the moment, I’ll leave you with this. In a 1963 pamphlet called “The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook,” the activist and laborer James Boggs argued for the revolutionary potential of the black struggle for civil rights. “The strength of the Negro cause and its power to shake up the social structure of the nation,” Boggs wrote, “comes from the fact that in the Negro struggle all the questions of human rights and human relationships are posed.” That is because it is a struggle for equality “in production, in consumption, in the community, in the courts, in the schools, in the universities, in transportation, in social activity, in government, and indeed in every sphere of American life.”
 

The American Revolution: Pages from a Black Workers Notebook 

Blue cover with a black eagle silhouette and the title printed over it. Handwritten note on bottom with subtitle.
James Boggs’ 1963 book with these new introductions:
* “Thinking and Acting Dialectically” by Grace Lee Boggs
* “Nobody Knows Better than Me” by Sharon (Shea) Howell
* “The Power of Ideas” by Carl Edwards
* “We are all ‘Works in Progress'” by Larry Sparks
* “Call to Detroit Summer” by Julia Pointer-Putnam
* “‘The Outsiders’ Practicing Transformation” by Jeanette Lee
* “The Next American Revolution” by Rich FeldmanAuthor: James Boggs
Price: $12.00 (+ $4.25 shipping)

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Grace’s autobiography free for all to read

Boggs family, please take note:
FREE LIVING FOR CHANGE E-BOOK
The University of Minnesota Press has made Grace’s autobiography free for all to read through August 31, 2020, as part of the “Reading for Racial Justice” series.
Clink on the link to start reading and please pass the word to others.

Living for Change

An Autobiography

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Grace Lee Boggs

Contributors: Robin D. G. Kelley

No one can tell in advance what form a movement will take. Grace Lee Boggs’s fascinating autobiography traces the story of a woman who transcended class and racial boundaries to pursue her passionate belief in a better society. Now with a new foreword by Robin D. G. Kelley, Living for Change is a sweeping account of a legendary human rights activist whose network included Malcolm X and C. L. R. James. From the end of the 1930s, through the Cold War, the Civil Rights era, and the rise of the Black Panthers to later efforts to rebuild crumbling urban communities, Living for Change is an exhilarating look at a remarkable woman who dedicated her life to social justice.

Boggs Center – Living For Change News – December 3rd, 2018

December 3rd, 2018

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Little War on the Prarie

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Thinking for Ourselves

 
Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Poletown Lives

Much of the country was shocked by the announcement that General Motors (GM) is closing five production plants in the U.S. and Canada. Two of the closing are in the Detroit area. The Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, known as the Poletown plant, after the community leveled to enable its construction, will be closed. So will the Warren Transmission Plant. Other plant scheduled for closure are in Lordstown, Ohio, White Marsh, Maryland, and Oshawa, Ontario. About 14,000 people will be affected directly: 8,000 of them salaried workers, and slightly more than 6000 factory workers. GM will reduce its total workforce by about 15%. GM stock went up by 5 percent when they announced the decision.

Most industry analysts agree that these closures were inevitable. Auto economists point to a lack of demand for the smaller models produced in these plants and dropping markets in China and the U.S. Even long-time critics of the auto industry said that Mary Barra, the CEO, “needed to do something before losses mounted.”

Donald Trump reacted angerly to the news, tweeting, “Very disappointed with General Motors.” He is, “looking at cutting all GM subsidies, including electric cars.” Many folks were quick to point out that Trumps anger is a lie, noting that the closings have been directly caused by Trump’s protectionist tariffs.

Certainly an argument can be made that Trump’s trade wars with China contributed to this decision. But the closures reflect longer term strategic choices by GM.

Such is the way of capitalism.

For me, this announcement evoked memories of hot, emotional meetings in civic centers and church halls, as the people of Poletown gathered to resist the destruction of their community for a Cadillac plant and the promise of 6000 jobs.

In 1980 the community organized against GM, Mayor Young, the Detroit City Council, the UAW, and the Archdioceses. They attracted national attention in a battle to resist Michigan’s Quick Take law.  But in July of 1981, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled private economic development justified taking homes, businesses, and schools from people. The last hold outs, mostly older women, who had occupied the church basement for 29 days, were forcefully removed by a 60-man SWAT team. The wrecking ball slammed into Immaculate Conception almost immediately. The first Cadillac Eldorado rolled of the line four years later.
The plant never employed 3000 people. A little more than 1500 will affected directly by this closure.

The fate of Poletown and the Cadillac Plant bring us to sharp questions: What are the real costs of development? What are the long-term implications of using public money and power to benefit corporations at the expense of community? What are the real costs to people and place? Who really benefits? How do we develop our ways of living that protect people and the places we value?

In the short run we traded the homes and memories of nearly 4000 people, 140 small businesses, six churches and one hospital for unfulfilled economic promises. We violated people and the places they loved to produce gas guzzling luxury cars. The powers that be convinced themselves and most everyone else that there was no alternative but to destroy a community in order to save it.

This logic, and the devastation it brings, has been repeated over and over again.  It is repeated today. At the time of Poletown one church leader said, “The overall good of the city is achieved by cutting away a certain part. When you’re trying to make something grow, you prune.”

Poletown calls us to look deeply at the choices we are making, at whose lives and hopes matter. Poletown reminds us that we must find better ways, if we are to develop our city, our people and new ways of living that will carry us to the future.

What We’re Watching and Reading

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The American Empire Will Collapse Within a Decade, Two at Most


Fighting to Keep Wright Museum Connected to the Community and the African Legacy

 

Boggs Center Living For Change News Letter – September 17th, 2018

September 17th, 2018

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COMMUNITY MEETING
CONCERNING THE CHARLES H. WRIGHT MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY

SACRED HEART ACTIVITIES BUILDING
3451 Rivard Street (off I-75 and Mack)

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2018 6:30—8:30 P.M.

Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell


Memory Work

It has been 17 years since the attacks on September 11. That was a lifetime ago for the young people entering the military, going to university, or heading to what they hope will be the beginnings of life after high school. Many are preparing to vote. All of them have spent their lives in a country at war. They have known Shock and Awe and a series of promises to end the death and killing. Each promise proved a lie.

I was thinking about these young people as I read the news that Muqtada al-Sadr is days away from forming a new government in Iraq. I have followed al-Sadr for more than 20 years. In the 1980s he fought against Saddam Hussein. With the 2003 invasion he led fierce military opposition to the U.S. In 2008 the US puppet government launched Operation Charge of the Knights against him, causing him to flee to Iran. There he shifted his strategy away from military operations and began providing social services. He returned to Iraq in 2011, joining with those fighting the Islamic State. Now he is on the verge of elected power.

Throughout all of this time, Al-Sadr has had three central concerns: The end of the occupation of Iraq, the end of corruption, and the establishment of a government dedicated to the well- being of all its people.

Little covered in the US press, these demands have become critical as Iraq faces a civilian emergency.  Recently there have been massive demonstrations against the existing, US backed government, its corruption, and lack of services.  This summer over 30,000 people were hospitalized for drinking polluted water. For years, people have complained of the lack of basic infrastructure. Meanwhile billions have been spent on “reconstructing Iraq.”

So now Al-Sadr appears after all these years to hold out a promise of a new day, continuing his demands that US leave Iraq alone, that the current government apologize to the people, and step down. He is calling for “radical and immediate solutions.”

Such stories encourage people to ask, what has all of this death and destruction been for? What have we learned about the limits of US military? These questions go to the heart of who we are, who we became through the course of the lives of these young people.

Henry Giroux,  writing on the 10th anniversary of 9-11, as these young people entered 5th grade offered a critical analysis: “The forces that had been undermining democracy since the 1980’s appeared to receive new life under the Bush administration. These included:  the growing power of corporations in American politics; an intensified attack on unions; the ascendency of the military-security state; a persistent and growing racism, especially targeting immigrants and Muslims; the suppression of civil rights, especially under the Military Commissions Act and the Patriot Act; the rise of the punishing state, with its mass incarceration of people of color; the rise of a culture of surveillance and fear; the attack on the social state; the increasing privatization of public life; growing support for a cutthroat form of economic Darwinism and its celebration of cruelty; and the reformulation, under the Bush-Cheney regime, of politics as an extension of war, both abroad and on the domestic front. Lawless behavior has become standard practice.”

He went on to describe the coarseness that has taken over public life, saying, “America has taken a dire turn to the dark side and embraced a ruthless kind of moral Darwinism in which a survival-of-the-fittest logic and a cult-of-the-winner mentality legitimate a war of all against all and pernicious cynicism as the prevailing attitude toward everyday life.  We now live in a society driven by a hyped-up market fundamentalism that thrives on a culture of hardness to the point of cruelty.”

These words were written during the Presidency of Barack Obama, not Donald Trump. But they capture the world we have created. And they cry out to us to recognize the emergency we face. They ask us to look to the life of Al-Sadr, who recognizes there are no quick solutions, no easy paths to creating a world that cares for people.

Giroux concluded with his own call: “If we believe in the promise of democracy, the American public needs to engage in a form of memory work in which loss both evokes the principle of communal responsibility and reinforces the ethical imperative to provide young people, especially those marginalized by race and class, with the economic, social and educational conditions that make life livable and the future sustainable.”

Meditations on activism following the turbulent 1960s—back in print!

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 Following the Detroit Rebellion of 1967, four veteran activists, Grace Lee and Jimmy Boggs, and Lyman and Freddy Paine, came together to rethink revolution and social change. Posting tough, thought-provoking questions, the recorded dialogue among these four friends ultimately serves as a call to all citizens to work together and think deeply about the kind of future we can create.

Meditations on activism following the turbulent 1960s—back in print!

Following the Detroit Rebellion of 1967, four veteran activists, Grace Lee and Jimmy Boggs, and Lyman and Freddy Paine, came together to rethink revolution and social change. Posting tough, thought-provoking questions, the recorded dialogue among these four friends ultimately serves as a call to all citizens to work together and think deeply about the kind of future we can create.

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Come see Ali Dirul, Founder and CEO of Ryter Cooperative Industries (RCI) give a ground breaking TEDx talk on sustainability and his grassroots approach to community based alternative energy solutions.

What We’re Reading

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Boggs Center – Living For Change News – May 14 2018

 

May 14th, 2018
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Thinking for Ourselves
Shea Howell
Mother’s Day with Nestle

Shortly after Mother’s Day, three Nestle semi-trucks will roll into Flint with free bottled water. Between Mother’s Day and Labor day Nestle will donate 100,000 bottles a week to three service centers where people can pick up the bottled water.  The Mayor of Flint has graciously thanked the company for its “willingness to help the people of Flint.”

There are so many things wrong with this public relations stunt, it is hard to know where to begin. First there is the obvious problem that Nestle is “donating” water that the entire state, and in some ways much of the globe, is paying for. Nestle is pumping 400 gallons a minute out of the underground springs that feed the Great Lakes.  For this desecration it pays the state $200 a year. That is less than many people in Flint pay for water on a monthly basis. They are doing this in spite of the largest public outcry on record for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Over 80,000 people objected to the authorization to nearly double the amount of water Nestle takes and puts into little bottles.

The decision to allow Nestle to increase its pumping capacity came on the heels of Governor Snyder’s decision to no longer distribute free water to the people of Flint. The Governor noted the water in Flint is now safe to drink, mostly. Nestle is the largest “owner” of a private water source in Michigan. Its head spokesperson is Deb Muchmore, the wife of the Governor’s Chief of Staff. The science behind the decision to allow increased pumping of water is based on questionable science, especially given the information gathered in a court case in 2003 when Nestle was order to stop operations due to “ecological harm and massive reduction in water levels.”

Given the series of lies the people of Flint have heard from public officials since 2014 when their Emergency manager joined with the Detroit Emergency Manager to remove Flint from the Detroit water system, it is understandable why the Governor’s comments are greeted with suspicion. Moreover, the glacial pace of removing lead pipes and replacing them means that aggregate testing of water does not mean every home is safe. Some families in Flint are depending on 22,000 bottles a year to live. But people still object to taking water from a company that is essentially stealing a precious resource for its own profit.

This year, as we celebrate Mothers Day, we should all remember just what kind of company Nestle is. Since the early 1970’s it has callously manipulated people around the globe into using baby formulas that require reliance on contaminated water. In 1974 a report called the Baby Killer by War on Want, sparked a global boycott. In 1981 the World Health Organization adopted a strict code of advertising to ban the promotion of formula as “comparable to breastmilk.” In February of this year Nestle was found to still be pushing formula as comparable to breast feeding, violating international guidelines and its own stated ethics.

In many places around the world, baby formula depends on water. Water that is often contaminated and unsafe to drink.

Nestle’s efforts to deflect our concern is foolish. The people of Flint, like people everywhere, deserve clean, fresh, affordable water. Until Flint’s entire water system is replaced, the State has a moral obligation to provide bottled water. We need a thoughtful, region-wide policy that recognizes our responsibilities to protect the waters of the Great Lakes and to respect the people and life they support.

 

Piper Carter is back for the 3x Dope episode