At almost 100 years old, I experience falls, new levels of pain, and difficulties moving. I also feel the need to record the most important influences in my life over the years. When I started college I had no idea what I was going to study. Japan had just invaded Manchuria so I thought international relations and political science should be my field of study. But in the middle of my sophomore year, the great depression started and I dropped all of my classes and decided to take philosophy even though, at the time, I could not tell you what it meant to study philosophy. Somehow, in my late teens, I was beginning to ask what life was all about, and that has been the question that has shaped the more than 80 years that have transpired since then. That’s where philosophy begins.
Socrates believed in dialogue and he was afraid that the new technology of writing would replace dialogue, where human beings actually interact with one another and through this they discover what they truly think.
In my living room I have a hundred books that I have selected from the thousands of books in my library. I am going to record why each of these books is important to me. They are about education, they are about philosophy, they are about this city.
On the first shelf are the books of philosophy. There are books from Socrates, who created the topic of philosophy, all the way to Lenin and Mao and Hegel. And then on the second shelf are books on the history of cities, including the history of Detroit. These are the books that I share with the people who visit.
As I think about my nearly 100 years and these 100 hundred books, I want my life to challenge people to think philosophically. I want people to ask themselves and each other what time it is on the clock of the world.
October 5, 2015–Grace Lee Boggs died peacefully in her sleep at her home on Field Street in Detroit this morning. She had recently celebrated her 100th birthday at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Grace was an internationally known philosopher activist for justice. She had been politically active since the 1930’s working with A. Phillip Randolph’s first march on Washington and later C.L.R. James. For 40 years she worked closely with her late husband James Boggs in advancing ideas of revolution and evolution for the 20th and 21st Centuries.
She helped organize the 1963 March down Woodward Avenue with Dr. Martin Luther King and the Grass Roots Leadership Conference with Malcolm X. Grace Lee Boggs was active in Labor, Civil Rights, Black Power, women and environmental justice movements. Later, with her husband James, she helped organize SOSAD, WePros, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Gardening Angels and Detroit Summer. Grace was a founding member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership and was a strong advocate for place based education and supported the James and Grace Lee Boggs School.