WSU Peace and Justice visits Boggs Center Barbara L. Jones

By Barbara L. Jones, Contributing Writer

WSU Peace and Justice visits Boggs Center

Standing: Barbara L. Jones, WSU Peace and Justice Learning Community Peer Mentor/Grad student,  Seated Left-Right; Marilyn Corbitt, WSU Grad student ,Dr. Fredric Pearson, WSU Director of The Center of Peace and Conflict Studies and Grace Lee Boggs, lifelong social activist

Recently the Wayne State University Peace and Justice Learning Community, an extension of the Center of Peace and Conflict Studies program, gathered at the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership for a discussion with  Grace Lee Boggs about visionary social justice organizing .The conversation focused on action in neighborhood development, improvement, judicial restoration, reform and human rights advocacy with the Detroit community.

Wayne State University’s Peace and Justice Learning Community is an institution serving students across all disciplines who are compelled by a variety of contexts within the realm of peace and justice. The learning community is dedicated to advancing community building and activism in the city of Detroit that ties the university to the student and the student to the university as it relates to peace and justice.

WSU Peace and Justice Learning students focus on issues raised in conversations about  how communication, miscommunication and the lack of communication occur within the community that revolve around change.. When communities learn to re-imagine how positive communication can foster better processes and outcomes, the end result will guide our thoughts and desires that can produce intentional peace within the Detroit community

Participants in the conversation included a diverse group of students, faculty, and local Detroit community activists who are committed to applying collaborative methods of scholarship and social justice activism that re-spirits wholesome communities. The Wayne State University Peace and Learning Community’s goal is to become an enriched learning community, a cohesive unit that promotes peace and justice activism within the local Detroit community.  Students are looking to engage with citizens in the community who are  defining and implementing change within the social justice scope.

A significant goal of the learning community is to apply and restore the connections of humanity within the Detroit community on all different levels. The discussion included the importance of utilizing Peace and Justice Learning Communities as tools for building community among WSU students.

The discussion with Grace Lee Boggs  inspired and challenged the group to change its way of thinking about “Change.”. “Change takes time, ” she explained.,  ‘”but crises create  opportunities for change.. A crisis is not only a danger but an opportunity to do visionary organizing.”

“Most people do protest organizing .Visionary organizing, however,,encourages people to turn to rather than against one another.  At the Boggs Center in times of crisis we encourage people to seize the opportunity to do for ourselves. Thus  the devastation of deindustrialization can be the opportunity to begin creating a post-industrial society, an opportunity to re-imagine work, life, education.”

Ron Scott, Detroit activist and spokesperson from the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality and creator of Peace Zones for Life.  said, “Americans can sometime make decisions which mitigate the restorative properties that we can have from a human scale, Americans tend to see things in terms of wanting things to happen on an instantaneous basis. We must operate on a standard of  re-capturing our humanity and  extending our humanity instead of  continuing to live in  fear.” 

The challenge for Wayne State’s Peace and Justice Learning Community is to move beyond  our immediate fears and shift our energies to the internal work that must be done.

Following the discussion  Wendy Cason, a WSU graduate student in the Master’s of Arts in Dispute Resolution program, stated, “It was truly an honor to gather with Mrs. Boggs and share with her and other passionate individuals in reimagining Detroit as a vibrant, nurturing city. Coming together, exchanging dialogue was enlightening as well as energizing.”

State University’s Director of Peace and Conflict Studies, Dr. Fredric Pearson said, “Grace Lee Boggs is always up to date, and always sees through to the core of problems. Her wit and insight inspire those around her to do their best to improve social conditions in our communities.”

Grace Boggs didn’t just give us lessons in visionary organizing and community-building within a university setting in Detroit. She gave us plenty of assignments to research, execute and complete so that  as a learning community we can become what we aim to be.


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