REClaiming The Organic Intellectual by Grace Lee Boggs

REClaiming The Organic Intellectual

by Grace Lee Boggs

CAAS 6-7-2016- final6 click here

Thank you, Jim Chaffers, for those warm introductory remarks. They remind me of the talks that Jimmy and I gave every November for 20 years in your class on Urban Design and Social Change in the Department of Architecture, mostly on Citizenship and Community.

And thank you, Kevin Gaines and CAAS, for inviting me to keynote the 40th anniversary celebration of the University of Michigan’s Center of African American and African Studies.

I very much appreciate the opportunity this gives me to discuss a question which has been troubling me for some time and which I believe should be troubling everyone in this room.

In light of the historic struggles and sacrifices that gave birth to Black Studies and Centers of African American Studies, we need to ask ourselves why these studies and these centers have been mainly producing university professors and not leaders for the struggles now needed to resolve the urgent and complex issues facing our whole country and especially black communities?

My hope, frankly, is that our discussion around this question will be so lively that it will spread to other campuses and other communities all over the country.

Boggs Center – Living for Change Newsletter – February 20th 2017

Jimmy and Grace  
  • RiverWise Magazine accepting submissions
  • Thinking for Ourselves              Shea Howell – Following Orders
  • 6 Things to do to support immigrant Neighbors
  • Come see YES! magazine editor Sarah Van Gelder discuss her new book in Detroit
  • What We’re Reading
  • Solar for the People
Living for Change News
February 20th, 2017

With the release of our first issue on February 7, 2017, RIVERWISE magazine is officially part of the local media landscape. Part of our stated mission is to be inclusive in ways not normally associated with print media.

We have begun accepting submissions  for the Riverwise Spring issue. But we’re exploring other ways to engage and broaden the network of movement activity for the benefit of Detroit’s traditionally underserved population.

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In keeping with that spirit, we are starting a series of public dialogues.
Join us for our first official ‘community conversation’ February 25 at Source Booksellers at 5 pm and share stories of public displays of activism in your neighborhood.

Who is organizing who, to solve what prevailing issues? What existing community spaces serve as liberation zones or places to create and implement new visions? And how we can better cover these stories?


With our first issue as a backdrop, we’ll be talking about these issues and more throughout 2017 and beyond. 
 – The Riverwise Collective                              

Thinking for Ourselves
Following Orders
Shea Howellshea25Across the country people are deciding it is more important to do the right thing than to follow a bad law. Days into the Trump administration the Attorney General refused to defend Trump’s executive order closing borders to people from predominately Muslim countries. Sally Yates made it clear, none of us can say “we are just following orders.”Since that moment, thousands of others have confronted this choice. As TSA and Immigration officials followed Trumps orders, people staged nationwide protests, swarming airports and packing the streets. Now, after galvanizing the attention of the country through a day without immigrants, people are organizing resistance. Some of this resistance is providing workshops on understanding your rights, some is establishing networks for emotional and financial support, and some is preparing for direct actions to stop ICE from deporting people.People of faith are asking how to remain truthful to higher laws while working to transform the unjust ones dictated by Trump. Declaring sanctuary churches is one response. Nationally, there are more than 800 congregations that have become sanctuaries since November 8.Mayors are reaffirming their cities as Sanctuaries. These declarations of non-cooperation with federal officials shows widespread defiance to Trump’s effort to bully cities. New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco all publicly defied Trump. San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee said, “I am here today to say we are still a sanctuary city. We stand by our sanctuary city because we want everybody to feel safe and utilize the services they deserve, including education and health care.”Detroit’s Mayor Duggan has failed this moral test. Worse, his Chief of Police is telling us how much he loves Trump.  It took one little invitation up to the big White House, and Chief Craig has come back “emboldened.”“Very positive, very supportive,” Craig said. In logic that was obviously twisted by Trump, Craig claimed he would not be “doing illegal immigration work for the president, but if a violent offender is caught and is not a citizen, the feds will be called.”

Such a distinction is likely to become increasingly blurry. During the recent round of arrests across the country, many were “collateral arrests” meaning those detained weren’t the original targets but people who got caught up in workplaces and homes.

The reality is that Trump is depending on local law enforcement to support mass deportation. That is why part of the meeting with Craig and other police officers was to highlight a little discussed executive order on immigration enforcement that included measures to ramp up a program known as 287(g), which deputizes local law enforcement officers to double as federal immigration agents. In addition to establishing broad and vague authority for arrests, this order provides a framework for local governments and private prisons to benefit from establishing detention centers. Detaining immigrants is about to become an even bigger profit center.

Chief Craig would do well to rethink his thoughtless response. The Mayor and the City Council need to reaffirm Detroit as a Sanctuary City. They also need to reassert local control over local police.

Today, across the city, school principals and teachers are providing far more leadership on what it means to live in a city that cares for its people. In calling for Sanctuary Schools, they are making it clear that “following orders” will not lead to a just society.


6 Things to do to support immigrant Neighbors
GLOBAL Detroit

1. Put up a sign stating that everyone is welcome (attached). Download and print the signs from this website : https://www.welcomeyourneigh bors.org/download-pdf

2. Join the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center newsletter. Stay up to date and be an ally when anti-immigrant legislation comes up: http://michiganimmigrant.o rg/about-us/subscribe-newslett er

3. Sign-up for a KNOW YOUR RIGHTS training! – https://docs.google.com/form s/d/e/1FAIpQLScBR_o0LweYzITIFN Oirrh50g0Snoafsx1gzsT41NGjC7c0 qg/viewform?c=0&w=1   (More dates to follow!)
4. HOST a Know Your Rights (KYR) session at your school, church, or neighborhood and invite as many as you can!
5. Share these videos from MIRC:
Spanish and English video of our 5 minute community education videos. Some folks have been showing this video in small groups and then having discussion with copies of our guide. Here are the links to those videos:
MIRC made a 20 minute English “train the trainers” video as a companion to our popular “Preparing Your Family for Immigration Enforcement” guide.  Here it is:
6. JOIN THE ACLU!! They need support and volunteers! https://action.acl u.org/secure/support-aclu-mich igan

(AHEM! 7. Others are wondering what they can do, so post what you are doing on FB and share this email every couple of weeks with others!)


Come see YES! magazine editor Sarah Van Gelder discuss her new book in Detroit

Source Booksellers
February 27th
6 pm
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What We’re Reading

Giving Up Toxic Masculinity To Build Real Resistance
William Anderson
Praxis Center

There is a love that should be more prevalent. In our communities overrun with toxic masculinity, a deep, radical love for women and all gender non-conforming people is especially important right now. The horror of white malevolence has personified itself in the realization of a Trump presidency. This is intricately linked to dangerous definitions of manhood that will only make these times worse. It’s imperative that the men who create this constant disarray realize that they’re going to be making life that much harder during these difficult times ahead.

While many are contemplating what resistance will look like over the years ahead, there’s one major effort that shouldn’t be overlooked:  men need to stop beating, raping, and killing women. Any resistance to fascism will be undermined by the terror that men wreak against women in our respective communities. The overwhelming violence of toxic masculinity defines itself at the expense of women daily. It’s street harassment; it’s domestic violence; it’s everywhere. Though often overlooked, women have been the formative leaders of so much of the work that’s gotten our movements to where they are today. Without women, our movements are absolutely nothing, and we must travail to overcome the trite manhoods that destroy women. KEEP READING


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The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

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3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter – February 8, 2017

  Jimmy and Grace  
* Issue #1 of Riverwise is here!

* Rally Against School Closures

* Resisting Trump is WORKING!

*  Dilla Youth Day Detroit

*Educating for Democracy
Shea Howell

* Emory *Douglas Feedom Freedom fundraiser

*Standing with Standing Rock
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty

*Detroit Youth Day  Detroit Historical Museum

Living for Change News
February 8, 2017

Issue #1 of Riverwise is here!2017-0952 Riverwise One proof

Riverwise is a community-based magazine created by a team of authors, writers, photo- journalists, parents, grandparents, students, organizers, activists, artists, educators and visionaries.

We are working together to create media that re ect local activism and the profound new work being done in and around Detroit neighborhoods.

We envision deepening relationships through media that serve as an essential part of weaving beloved communities.

We will celebrate personal Detroit stories and the process of evolving ideas.

LOOK FOR ISSUE #1 at area bookstores, newstands, coffee shops and more


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Resisting Trump is WORKING!

For everyone who believed in #resist, congrats on helping with the following successful efforts. – Betsy TaylorBecause of you:
1. Federal hiring freeze is reversed for VA (Veteran Affairs).
2. Federal judge imposes temporary nationwide halt to Trump’s travel ban.
3. Green card holders can get back in country after massive airport protests and litigation efforts.  Iraq war vetswere part of those protests.
4. Uber CEO drops off presidential advisory council and pledges $3M and immigration lawyers for its drivers after #DeleteUber trends on Twitter. 200,000 Uber users drop the app.   Lyft gives 1m to American Civil Liberties Union to fight immigration ban.
5. Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) enrollment ads are still going to air with  help from private companies.
6. The ACLU raised 24M over one weekend (normally 3-4Mil/year).
7. HHS, EPA, USDA gag order lifted due to tremendous protests and pressure.
8. 800,000 scientists have signed up for a march in support of science.
9. More people of different career/religious/economic/ethn ic/gender backgrounds are considering running for political office than ever before.
10. White House contender Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has opposed almost all of Trump’s nominations and is getting support as a result.

11. Trump’s approval ratings are low by historical comparisons.
12. Governors are standing up against Trump – most notably in California.  They are joined by over 17 state attorney generals.
13. Big City mayors are defying Trump on immigration issues and more.

15. High profile athletic teams – and many others – are joining the effort to boycott Trump hotels.

16. Theaters are absolutely packed with viewers of the just released and extraordinary documentary on James Baldwin.  This must see film is the latest in asking us to face the racism that continues to plague the heart of America.
17. There will be a growing number of efforts to impeach Trump.
18. Reproductive rights activists are pushing for protection at state level.
19. The White House has pulled back from reopening black site torture prisons due to public outrage and pressure from veterans.
21. Seattle climate activists successfully moved their city council towards divestment of 3 billion dollars from Wells Fargo due to its support for the Dakota Access pipeline project.

22. Most important perhaps, hundreds of thousands of new people are engaged.  Scores of new platforms for engagement have been launched including:

These are dark times and the threats are colossal.  While more resistance and creative forward-moving strategies will be needed, sometimes we have to celebrate our wins.
Stay vigilant, but also take self care seriously. Activist burnout is a thing. Marathon, don’t sprint. Give thanks for all the others – known and unknown – who are shoulder to shoulder with us in this fight.
#resist


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Thinking for Ourselves
Eucating for Democracy
Shea Howell
The announcement by the state School Reform Office that it is considering closing 25 more schools in Detroit is being met with widespread outrage. Students, teachers, parents, and community members rallied quickly to denounce the proposed closures. Alycia Meriweather, the interim superintendent for Detroit Public School Community District vowed to fight the closures saying, “School closure is not an option.Even Mayor Mike Duggan, who has absolutely no authority over schools, weighed in to say he would “fight the irrational closing” of schools. The Mayor, in announcing his bid for re-election, said he had called Governor Snyder to tell him the announced closures are “wrong” and that the school reform office efforts are “immoral, reckless … you have to step in.”On Sunday February 5 the Detroit Independent Freedom School initiative spearheaded a community town hall to develop strategic responses to this latest assault on our children and their futures. Over 300 people gathered to talk about how we can support our children and parents.Russ Bellant, community advocate, began the informational panel opening the meeting saying, “The fundamental message I think everyone needs to understand is that the closing of the schools, not just this month but for the last 18 years, has been illegal, unconstitutional, and immoral.”  Mr. Bellant emphasized that the state Constitution says “no public money to private schools,” but 80% of the charters are for profit private corporations. Over half the children of Detroit attend charter schools. Other panelists and audience members agreed, arguing that school closures are a form of genocide, targeting African American districts across the state, creating conditions where it is impossible for children to learn, to feel cared for, or be respected.  

The only groups in Michigan supporting additional closures are those supported by Betsy DeVos and her cronies. The Great Lakes Education Project called on the state to shut the “worst of the worst” schools. The organization said education officials have spent $7 billion on failed school-turnaround efforts. Most of that money has gone into the hands of private corporations and consultants.

In a system where private corporations have driven children into overcrowded classes, provided unqualified teachers, refused to provide needed materials or even basic facilities like functioning bathrooms, DeVos and her friends continue to claim they care about our children. Defying reality, they claim closing schools is good for families.

“The simple fact is these schools are failing our kids and their families deserve better,” said GLEP Executive Director Gary Naeyaert in a statement. “If the SRO exercises the ‘unreasonable hardship’ exemption to avoid closing any of these schools, we expect them to implement dramatic restructuring to give these students a chance at a successful future.”

The battle for public education in Detroit is a prelude to what people around the country will face as Betsy DeVos brings her agenda to the national stage as the new Secretary of Education. Uniquely unqualified, dedicated to the destruction of public education, and architect of polices that are nothing short of child abuse, DeVos will be pushing privatization and schools of choice across the country.

Resisting her efforts requires deepening our understanding of the critical role public education should play in strengthening our democracy. The purpose of education is to enable people to become fully responsible, creative citizens, making decisions that critically reflect an understanding of ourselves, our relationships to one another, and our responsibilities to the earth that supports us.

We are facing critical times. We need the imagination and thinking of everyone, especially our children, to develop just and regenerative futures. The efforts of DeVos and company to reduce education to another profit center for corporate elites must be resisted. This resistance must be rooted in love for our children and in the celebration of their capabilities to participate in developing solutions to what democracy can really look like.

—-

Footage courtesy of Shane Bernardo from Emergency Meeting on the Education Crisis.

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Standing with Standing Rock
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty

Over the past few months, the Boggs Center welcomed our first group of fellows. They are an intergenerational group of writers, social justice organizers, educators, union organizers and students who have been collectively studying, creating, organizing and writing. Below is their collective write-up in solidarity with Standing Rock Water Protectors.

In the face of corporate violence, environmental destruction, and the militarized stripping of physical and spiritual bodies, Indigenous women have played an integral role in leading a multi tribal nation stance of solidarity to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

We have witnessed a peaceful transformative stance of truth from the Sioux and many Native Tribes. This stance though long voiced, has only recently been heard by souls around the world. After inconceivable injustices toward Indigenous communities that continue today, the sacredness of Indigenous peoples and principals are finally being honored by the masses. It is a step toward the light of humanity, but it is a far journey away from where we need to be as human beings.

“Settler colonialism is a structure, not an event,” writes Andrea Smith (http://www.showingupforracial justice.org/standing_rock_soli darity).

When the DAPL was rerouted from Bismarck to Standing Rock, elected officials and corporate entities denied this right to the native tribes in residence at Standing Rock, despite recognizing the risk to the residents of Bismarck. This was an intolerable act of injustice, and is rightly protested by members of the Standing Rock community and others across the country and the world.

When we urgently reflect, as individuals and in community, on the crying needs of a humanity tired of the violence of war, too often lived as normality, we must ask: how it is that the machinery of war has come to be seen as a tool for “security” and “development?” When development is centrally concerned with the death and exploitation of the sacred, we must ask: what are its ends? We watched as the cry to protect the very water that sustains our collective life on this planet, water through which the spirits of former and latter generations flow, was shot down with water canons fired in subfreezing temperature. We saw offerings of peace carrying hopes for a more sustainable future spat upon with tear gas, rubber bullets and concussion grenades. And yet, our Indigenous brothers and sisters were armed with prayers, with love for the earth in all its sacredness, with generosity of spirit, and with hopes for generations to come. So we must also ask: what is the nature of the machinery those of us who are tired of war must develop? How will we, out of hope and out of need, reimagine and redefine what development looks, feels, smells, and tastes like on the local battlegrounds of a planetary struggle?

We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers at Standing Rock! We stand in support of their collective and resounding efforts to fight for their rights toward an equal and just water system. We lift up the stories, songs, and ongoing prayers of native families that will forever be connected to victorious counter-narratives. We are committed to not only being allies with our voices, but through our planning, organizing, and doing. We remain focused on creating and promoting culturally-based frameworks and understandings that affirm the lives of Indigenous communities struggling for their humanity.

We uphold the right to clean water as a basic right of all humanity. We affirm the statement that water is life, and that life cannot continue without access to water. Creating healthy and life-giving communities cannot happen without this basic need.

We celebrate the fortitude and strength of the Standing Rock Water Protectors, recognizing the Indigenous leaders who inspired the global community to take action against the illegal and immoral construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. While we rejoiced in the recent victory at Standing Rock, we knew that the assaults would increase, and so must the global resistance. We knew that the responsibility to create healthy, sustainable energy and to support the autonomy of Native Peoples in this country would become more pressing and significant.

We acknowledge the work still to be done in the fight for equal access to clean water in Flint where residents continue to struggle against the contamination of their water supply, and in Detroit where thousands of residents are without water and continue to face water shut-offs each month. We take courage from the Standing Rock Water Protectors and will strengthen our efforts to stand alongside those who continue the fight for water in our own communities.

We learn from Standing Rock that open space is not empty space, that land is sacred and its resources precious, that communities should have a say in decisions that will impact their health and their relationship to the land. We stand firm against the violence, discrimination and disrespect that the Native Peoples of America continue to face from our government and corporate interests. We remember the long history of injustice that has been perpetrated against Native Peoples, and we are reminded that communities have power to stand against oppression and to make an impact for the better.

The energy galvanized by the Water Protectors — the thousands united to sustain the resistance against the violence, against being sprayed with freezing water in sub-zero temperatures, against militant threats of further displacement and arrest, against being bitten by K9 dogs — is a collective energy strong enough to stop the pipeline drilling.  We have witnessed Water Protectors protecting their sacred burial ground, their home and the bloodlines to their living ancestry. We have witnessed Water Protectors fighting to live.

May the Water Protectors be victorious. The soul of America, the soul of humanity is at stake.

Julia Cuneo,
Sarah Chelius
Eshe Sherley
Raven Jones Standbrough
Lisa Perhamus
Cass Charrette
Elbert Collier
Maggie Rohweder
Michelle Puckett
Lejla Bajgoric
Meghan McCullough


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The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

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3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214

Boggs Center – Living for Change News Letter – January 31st – February 6, 2017

Jimmy and Grace  
* Education Crisis Meet Flyer
* Thinking for OurSelves –
The First Week  Shea Howell
* Emory Douglas – Youth & Family Fund Raiser February 16, 2017
* Visioning a World Beyond Struggle Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
* Black Bottom Paradise Valley Exhibit
* Women Creating Caring Communities
March 11,2017
Living for Change News
January 31st – February 6
2017
correctedEmergency Ed
Thinking for Ourselves
The First Week
Shea HowellThe first week of the Trump administration has been met with resistance at every level. People by the thousands gathered spontaneously at airports around the country to protest Trump’s ban on immigrants from 7 Muslim countries. Protesters chanted “No Ban, No Wall” and “Let them in!” Mayors issued statements affirming their cities as welcoming places. Sheriffs announced they would not cooperate with immigration and border patrols. Governors stepped forward to stand with immigrants. Lawyers set up card tables to offer legal advice. Others filed lawsuits. University presidents and student leaders are issuing statements in support of immigrants. Congressional leaders have taken to the streets. International leaders and organizations condemned the ban. Reporters are chronicling the stories of lives interrupted, people and families put at risk. Business executives are setting up special funds to support resistance. Non profit organizations, churches, and people of faith are issuing declarations in opposition to the ban. Judges are ruling against it and the Acting Attorney General refused to defend it.Meanwhile scientists are planning a march on Washington. Anonymous sources in the White House are leaking concerns for Trumps stability. And the wonderful park rangers are not only continuing to tweet, but their leadership has ridiculed the foolishness of Trump directives. We are in the midst of a struggle for the soul of our country.  The speed with which Trump has moved to consolidate authority into the hands of a wealthy, ideologically driven group of white extremists has made clear his intentions to turn our country into a mean, crude, and cruel place.  Over the next few months America will be reshaped. The actions we take matter in ways we cannot imagine or predict. As Dr. King said more than 50 years ago, “The future is neither automatic nor inevitable.”  He said, “Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

We have seen such passionate concern across the country. And we have also seen those who are willing to collaborate with injustice. Some border patrol members and immigration officials zealously moved to enforce this ban. Others refused to provide any information to lawyers, family members and government offers. Some news sources have celebrated the get tough attitude of Trump, saying most Americans support it. Trump himself has said he is having a “good day” as outrage spreads.

We are learning that some people will risk everything for justice and some people will do anything to keep a job. We are facing a great divide. People are deciding where they stand, what they stand for, and what they are willing to do to not only to protect themselves, but for the values we cherish.

We are rapidly learning to think and act together in new ways. Turning to one another, defining the kind of future we want, requires levels of courage and creativity that are only beginning to emerge. But this first week gives us much to build upon. It holds the hope of our enormous capacities to create a new America for all.

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Visioning a world beyond struggle: What it means to be human
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
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This past weekend, I joined thousands at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) for the protest against Trump’s most recent inhumane decision, his temporary Muslim ban. As usual, it felt exhilarating to be among so many people with similar views on humanity. And as usual, I felt the familiar sense of deflated adrenaline when our protest came to an end after 2 hours of pre-planned resistance. I must admit that some of it was also guilt, as I started to think about my comrades who were spending evenings resisting in other airports across the globe. Nonetheless, after being told by airport police that our “party is over,” a friend and I hailed an airport taxi and started to make our way home. I was reenergized for a bit after we were thanked by our taxi driver for our resistance, which followed with his waving of our fees. My conscience started to feel a little bit better, but I still felt incomplete.
Once home, after posting all my videos and photos on social media, I decided to visit a familiar voice for some inspiration. My late mentor, Grace Lee Boggs had issued a message to Occupy Wall Street in 2011. I also decided to watch her video around what it means to be human.

It’s typical for me to visit videos and writings from Grace when I am in deep political reflection. She was always asking, “What time is it on the clock of the world?” It’s a question that took me years to understand and internalize, but one that now motivates my writings and deeds.

After taking in Grace’s words, I decided to revisit an article I wrote after participating in one of Grace’s memorials last year in Oakland. I recalled that I had returned to Detroit with a great deal of clarity and wanted to revisit that moment for inspiration. I wrote in part:

“Grace pushed us to vision when the rest of the world appeared chaotic. She pushed us to study when many in the world would deem that passive. Grace pushed us to connect in love and struggle and to create our paths by walking them. She pushed us to turn to one another when the pain and trauma of the world was tearing us apart. If Grace were sitting here now, she would tell us that we are living in dangerous times, a time of both crises and opportunity.  She would tell us that these are the times to grow our souls and that it is not only a time to imagine what the Next American Revolution could be like, but that we should imagine what this country’s revolution could create for the rest of the world.”

Grace believed, like we believe, that Detroit could be the center for the world’s transformation and she pushed and guided us to take leadership in that regard and to nurture others to do the same.

The brief moment of jubilation one feels when they are protest organizing cannot be lingered upon. Although it is imperative that we celebrate the small victories in order to achieve moments of relief, we must challenge ourselves to move past the joyful moments and warm feelings that keep us celebrating for too long and into the moments that challenge us to ask ourselves “What’s next? What time is it on our individual clocks? What time is it on the clocks of our blocks? What time is it in on the clocks of our cities, on the clock of the world, on the clock of our humanity?”
What changes need to take place in each of us in order to challenge the status quo?
To challenge the notion that a city must be poisoned in order for us to fight for it’s poor to have clean and affordable water? To challenge the notion that a people who cannot pay their bills are disposable? To challenge the notion that those who are undocumented, or are immigrants to a city are unworthy of clean air and the protection of their language, culture and identity? To challenge the idea that the fratricide we see happening most prominently in Black and Brown communities is disconnected from racism and capitalism?

If Grace were sitting here, she would be telling us to listen to our young people and telling the young people to utilize the marbles of our elders. She would be asking us what we are going to do different, not tomorrow, but today in terms of what it means to be a human being?

So when asked what time it is on the clock of the world, on the clock of our souls and our humanity, let us keep in mind that we hold the hands that move the clock and we have a responsibility to “move the world.”

I share with you these videos of Grace and my personal reflections with the hopes that we will all struggle individually and together to become more human as human beings and to expand our ideas towards resistance to include vision. We must become neighbors to our Muslim sisters and brothers, above and beyond Trump’s executive orders. We must turn toward one another and away from the cultural biases and prejudices that have us sitting silently until media lets us know we should be outraged. We cannot afford to revisit these conditions another 50 years from now.
In the words of another one of my mentors, Barbara Ransby, “Who among us has the luxury not to resist?”


Black Bottom and Paradise Valley Exhibit

BOLL FAMILY YMCA, DETROIT
January 3 – February 28 2017
Opening February 1 * 2017 6-8pm* 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery, was adopted by the 38th Congress. center_panels_for_liquor_store_1

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WCCC

AMC2017_Session_Flyer_Final

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

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The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…
Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

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3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

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Boggs Center News Letter Living For Change – January 2 – 9th, 2017

Jimmy and Grace  
Living for Change News
January 2nd – January 9th
Thinking for Ourselves
Faithful Days
Shea Howell

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This year the first day of 2017 was also the last day of Kwanzaa, Imani, the affirmation of faith. Over 200 people gathered at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to share in celebration of the day. Young people with the Detroit Independent Freedom School Movement joined with parents, teachers, friends, artists, and activists to emphasize our faith in one another and our capacity to create a better city and a better world.It was a good way to begin this new year. The Al Nur Drum and Dance Company set the energy for the event as people gathered to light the Kwanzaa candles. Each candle calls forth a value that will be important for us to remember as we face the choices of the coming days. Unity, Self Determination, Collective Work & Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith are critical guideposts to judge our actions.

People were reminded of the powerful history of the Freedom Schools that emerged in the 1960’s. These schools were about more than classrooms. As Jon Hale wrote in the Atlantic, freedom schools were part of a larger movement for Black Liberation and were designed to teach “the art of resistance and the strategies of protest.” In the process they raised questions about the very nature of our democracy.

The forces of white supremacy did not welcome this questioning. In fact, the Freedom Schools and the Freedom Fighters in Mississippi who were part of them were subjected to a “level of terrorism that had not been seen in the South since Reconstruction. From June to August 1964 alone, police arrested more than 1,000 protesters and local segregationists murdered three freedom workers, assaulted over 80 activists, opened fire on demonstrators over 35 times, and set fire to 35 churches.”

In response to this violence, “Activists remained undeterred. During the course of the summer they successfully pressured Congress to end a seven-week filibuster and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Freedom Fighters also forced Southern states to admit a handful of black students to all-white desegregated its schools in 1964, becoming the last state in the country to do so.”

These victories only lead to more questions for the Freedom School Movement. Bob Moses who would later founded the Algebra Project asked in the fall of 1964, “Why can’t we set up our own schools? What students really need to learn is how to be organized to work on the society to change it.”

For the Freedom School Movement “a quality education did not mean seating a black student next to a white student. It meant making sure every school adopted a rigorous curriculum, hired excellent teachers, and provided an opportunity for economic mobility.”

This is an important history for all of us to remember as we decide how to resist the growing greed, dehumanization, and destruction of the coming federal administration.

Congressman John Lewis, who was the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), wrote that the objective of Freedom Summer was to “force a showdown between the local and federal government.”

As we move into 2017, we face another “showdown.” None of us should have any illusions about the level of violence that so quickly surfaces against those who move us toward a more just future. Nor should we lose faith in our capacity to resist, to find ways to work together, to celebrate our creativity, and to forge a place for our children.

daplconcert
I Too, Sing America
Tawana Honeycomb Petty

I am true believer in the power of poetry. After all, I have considered myself a poet since I was 7 years old. I can still recall the butterflies I felt in my stomach when my elementary school teacher had me read, and later perform Langston Hughes’s I Too, Sing America. It was a life changing experience.
I grew up with a grandfather as a pastor. When I was a very young child he would have me memorize scripture and recite it at the head of the church. I was proud to learn the lines and all the books of the Bible. There was something fulfilling about it. I can’t recall how solid my interpretation was of what I was memorizing at that age, but I do recall that there was something about my reciting those lines that made the congregation feel good, that made me feel good. There was something that shifted in the atmosphere for them and for me when I would recite to the audience.
But, it was experience with getting to know Langston Hughes’s poetry that took my life to another level. I found a spiritual connectedness I had never felt before. The words drew me in, made me think and emote. I knew then that I wanted to be a poet.
Poems helped me escape everything around me. I could write a poem that took my sorrows and placed them into testimony. My grandpa started to let me read poems in front of church, instead of scripture. He understood that poems were my scripture.
I suffered many things as a child and I often think back about the times I’ve endured the most trauma in my life and the poems that came to rescue me. They have been a beautiful refuge from a sometimes ugly world.
As an adult I have struggled with how to keep poetry as a significant part of my life. Art, and especially poetry is often treated as an afterthought of struggle and resistance. The deeper I got into ideological study and thinking, the deeper the questions about my art became. How can I be political, yet visionary as an artist? How can I use poetry as an organizing tool of resistance? How can I bring my seemingly contradictory worlds together?
After deep meditation, I created a workshop called Poetry as Visionary Resistance. The workshop helps me to apply political ideology and organizing to my love of poetry. It’s the way I discovered how to merge my worlds. It’s an adaptation I’ve become quite proud of.
I was recently forwarded a write-up by Wayne State University student, Julia Grace Hill about one of my workshops and it brought me to tears. The write-up did not focus on the “success” of the workshop, it focused on the author’s love and renewed appreciation for the power of poetry. It was more than I could hope for. Reading Julia’s reflections took me back to the butterflies that inspired me to live my life through poetry. The renewed my desire to continue to create for something larger than myself.
This past Sunday I was invited to share poetry as visionary resistance through sermon on New Years Day at the First UU Church of Detroit. After meditation, I went into the sermon asking myself three questions:
What does it mean to resist?
What role should vision play in our resistance?
What becomes of a visionary, stuck in a deficit mindset?
When I started to speak with tears streaming down my face, the sermon took on a life of its own. It can be found here.
May we all discover a lifelong love for poetry. May our visionary resistance live on.
What becomes of a visionary
trapped in a deficit mind?
What becomes of their art?
What becomes of their shine?
If they are buried in gloom,
when their art resonates,
will they set off a bomb
will they detonate hate?
Will they torture their souls,
taking others along?
Will they chip at our spirits,
til we just frame and bone?
What becomes of a visionary,
with no hope to spare?
Do they leave with the wind,
or dissolve in the air?
Do they drown in the waves,
or get lost in the fray?
Or will they come out
pen swinging,
til they vision a way?
My Ancestors had vision,
freedom on the inside.
Visualized their liberation,
before the freedom rides,
before the marches on Washington,
before melanin in the oval,
before elections determined,
whether our lives would be over.
They visioned freedom from whips,
while they lived inside chains,
saw freedom in their mind,
while their bodies were enslaved.
Visionaries make evolution,
lead us to co-liberation,
create the world we all need,
Love waging, imagination.

10 Things to Think About this Year
Rich Feldman

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As I look back at 2016 and enter 2017, I am reminded that we will commemorate many anniversaries this year. The world will commemorate the 100 anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1917, the 80th anniversary of the Flint Sit-Down Strikes of the UAW, the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Detroit Rebellion and the 50th anniversary of the MLK speech: Beyond Vietnam: Time to Break the Silence.

I am reminded of historical turning points and moments of choice when ideas and actions matter. We live in such a moment. A Moment when there is no separation between the Urgency of NOW and the long haul, where our choice is Community or Chaos.

2016 was a very personally significant year because it was the first year in more than 40 that my political work in Detroit did not include a living relationship with either James or Grace Lee Boggs.  James died in 1993 and Grace transitioned in 2015. The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership continues the intellectual and on the ground work in Detroit and across our country and globe. I am very fortunate to be part of this legacy and ongoing work.

In 2016, My wife, Janice, published a new book, What Matters! Reflections on Disability, Community and Love which chronicles the journey of our son, Micah, who has an intellectual disability.  For the first time in our lives we have no living parents sharing their memories or stories with us at the holidays. My dad, Myron, died in 1970, my mom, Pearl in 2013, and Janice’s mom, Delores passed in 2014 and her dad, Albert in 2015.  Both Emma and Micah continue to live in Boston & Syracuse respectively where they are both teachers with a strong commitment to “making the world” a little better.

History, time and ideas remind me that Donald Trump and all his attempts to save the dying order of capitalism/racism is not permanent. Trump also supports a continued materialist collision course with nature (planetary suicide or natural genocide). Out of the pain and the whip of the counter-revolution will emerge a new historical period, for better or worse.  

We are in a battle to create the future. Yes, it will be dangerous, filled with fear, pain and hate and also awaken more people to resist and to look deeply at the need for new solutions and new thinking.  Some will look to old solutions and old thinking and others will ask deeper questions, become more radical and look at ourselves and our comfort zones.

Hope is about taking the next step. We live in 21-century movement times. From Arab Spring to Occupy to Black Lives Matter and from defining ourselves as protectors and stewards of the earth to the leadership of our ancestors and the historic role of women at Standing Rock. As we enter into new territory taking new steps, create new practices, reflecting on theory and practice, we set free our imaginations.

Here are 10 things to reflect on or act upon in 2017

  1. Create resistance and sanctuary neighborhoods, cities, counties, schools, union halls, faith based centers, and workplaces.
  2. Create sustaining circles of support and commit to creating the Beloved Community. These are the times to grow our souls! Our human spirit is searching.
  3. Host community readings of the MLK speech:  Beyond Vietnam: Time to Break the Silence calling for a radical revolution in Values.
  4. Listen to Krista Tippett interview with Vincent Harding and Rube Sales.
  5. Check out emerging Fab City Movement (From Barcelona to Detroit). The JOB economy is over.  It’s our time to re-imagine work.      
  6. Create and support local sustainable community production and self-governing democracy zones where we live. Begin to write local constitutions based upon new values and principles to build a new nation from the ground up.
  7. Create discussions, listen and engage with folks in the suburbs who too often have ignored or minimized the truth of our nation’s history and thus, quietly or actively, supported the exclusion of those who never gained from the American Dream.  
  8. Create Brave Spaces. There cannot be reconciliation or a coming together of our nation until there is truth telling.  Creating brave conversations about racism, misogyny, xenophobia and ableism are essential for personal and collective transformation.
  9. Read Karl Polanyi’s Great Transformation, Grace Boggs’ the Next American Revolution and Immanuel Wallerstein, so we can really deepen our understanding of today by understanding this historic-epoch transition moment in which we live.
  10. Publically express what you believe.

When our children and grandchildren look back in 50 years or 100 years, what will they see? What can 2067 or 2117 look like? Our choices, our actions, our ideas do matter.  Will they matter enough?  Our future is up to us!  Imagination and no regrets in 2017!


15,000 Lights
Rabbi Alana Alpert
Detroit Jews for Justice

I write to you just a few hours after our second annual Festival of Rights. Jews and our allies came together to celebrate our hard work, assert our shared vision, and affirm our commitment to realizing that vision. A few brief highlights:

alpert

GUIDING LIGHTS

Some of our most trusted partners lit the menorah. What an incredible privilege to offer the honor to friends whose leadership we have been blessed to follow this year. We were joined by friends from The Motor City Freedom Riders, The Ecology Center, and the People’s Water Board.

REDEDICATION

Hanukkah means “dedication” – it gives us an opportunity each year to rededicate ourselves to struggles for justice. Tonight, new and old leaders committed ourselves to stretching ourselves in the coming year — to showing up for learning, for action, for play, and for the nitty-gritty.

Watching a slideshow of our short history I felt amazed by how much we have been able to accomplish so far. The plans our leaders are developing for this coming year are ambitious. We ask for your voices, hearts, hands, and feet — your money and your time. It is only with all of those things can Jews in Metro Detroit join the fight for racial and economic justice.

As we sang together:

Kol echad who or katan, v’kulanu or eitan — Each of us is a small light, all of us are a great light.

The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…

Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

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3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan