By Grace Lee Boggs

April 7-14, 2012

Last week’s overnight visit to Atlanta by Shea Howell, Invincible and myself gave me a lot of food for thought.

Wednesday evening we spent three hours in a large auditorium in the Atlanta University Center Historic District with a panel of Vincent Harding’s Morehouse College students and about a hundred other people from the community.

Invincible performed two lively raps while scenes of Detroit’s devastation were flashed on a large screen in the background.

I talked about the many Solutionaries creating community-based education and New Work & Culture who are coming to the Boggs Center.

The ensuing discussion was desultory and struck me as half-hearted.

The next morning a smaller group met in the Episcopal Center and discussed pressures on black men to prove or negotiate their masculinity. The discussion was much livelier.

It became especially interesting to me when Aljosie Knight, Vincent Harding ‘s administrative assistant, described the “sweetness” of older black men, who had been raised in the Jim Crow South. Jimmy Boggs and many of his friends , male and female, had that .”sweetness.” That is why we were married for 40 years and why I decided to make Detroit my home.

Her remark reminded me that younger black males, growing up in the middle and late 20th and early 21st centuries, have had few opportunities to be of use or for doing the real work which has always been so integral to being human.

Jimmy used to say “Men don’t need to show our manhood. We need to show our humanity.”

Detroit and Atlanta strike me as very different culturally and politically, even though they are both majority African American cities.

Detroit’s devastation challenges us to keep imagining and creating alternatives. The imagination of Atlanta residents remains dormant because its fancy hotels and condos, soaring skyscrapers, even its freeways named for civil rights leaders, create the illusion that the American Dream is still alive.

I hope some of the students we met in Atlanta will come to Detroit for Summer 2012 to experience the next American revolution and engage in Visionary Organizing. They will learn a lot and it would do Atlanta and the South a lot of good..


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