Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
August 23rd, 2017

Thinking for Ourselves

Greensboro Lessons
Shea HowellWhile outrage, anger, and the acknowledgement of the moral vacuum of the White House dominated the media this week, another story of Nazis, the Klan and killing emerged in Greensboro, North Carolina. There, after nearly 40 years, the Greensboro City Council voted to apologize for the murder of 5 people gathered to peacefully protest the Klan and Nazi in 1979. Joyce Johnson of the Beloved Community Center who has worked for truth and reconciliation over these long years said, “In the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville and after years of organizing by survivors and supporters, the Greensboro City Council finally voted to issue an apology for the November 3, 1979 Greensboro Massacre. Council members also agreed to study the full Final Report of the Greensboro TRC.”

She said, “I’m shedding tears of joy tonight for this small victory, even as we strengthen our resolve to continue our quest for truth, justice, reconciliation, and healing in Greensboro and throughout our country. Let’s turn these tragedies into triumphs!”  

There are many lessons from Greensboro. On November 3 of 1979 labor and community activists and members of the Communist Workers Party (CWP) organized a Death to the Klan march, set to begin in the Morningside Homes community. This was in response to increased Klan activity in Greensboro as activists sought to unionize mill workers. As marchers gathered in the early morning, police withdrew. Shortly, a caravan of Klan and Nazi members pulled up and calmly took rifles out of their trunks. They shot into the crowd, killing five of the organizers and wounding 10 others. The shootings were captured on a reporter’s video tape.

In the state and federal criminal trials that followed,  all-white juries found the KKK and Nazis not guilty. In 1985 a civil jury found two police officers and six Klansmen and Nazis liable for the wrongful death of one of those killed and for the assault and battery of two survivors.

For nearly 4 decades the Reverend Nelson Johnson and Joyce Johnson have organized through the Beloved Community Center to help Greensboro and the country face the violence that holds white supremacy in place.  They have organized marches, vigils, meetings, protests, sit ins, occupations, public art, speak outs, conversations, and confrontations.

Inspired by the truth and reconciliation process in South Africa, they initiated a two year process in Greensboro, establishing a public Truth and Reconciliation Commission to study what happened, why it happened, and what should be done.  The report was released in 2006. It made clear the Klan and Nazi parties were responsible for the shootings. It also acknowledged the role of the local police in promoting violence and the fact that the Greensboro Police Department, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had information from informants about the Klan and neo-Nazi plan to attack the demonstration, they followed and photographed the caravan of armed attackers, and took no action until after the shootings.

The report also acknowledged that the CWP had some responsibility in intensifying the atmosphere through their rhetoric.  However, the report was clear, this was a “lesser” responsibility.

Since the conclusion of the Commission, the Beloved Community Center has struggled to make its findings meaningful to the community. In 2009 the City Council voted to issue a statement of regret for the shootings, but stopped short of an apology.

In 2015 the Beloved Community Center initiated placing an historical marker, backed by the state historical commission, to commemorate the “Greensboro Massacre.” Some civic leaders objected, wanting the term “shooting” or shoot out, rather than massacre. But after public testimony and discussion, the City Council voted 7-2 approving massacre.

Last week, with the echoes of Charlottesville reawakening the Greensboro Massacre, the City Council took one more step toward reconciliation with its painful past. They issued a public apology and took responsibility for the city’s role in these preventable, needless deaths.

Greensboro reminds us that there are no quick fixes or easy ways to move beyond the hatred of the KKK and the American Nazi Party, or any of the multitude of white supremacist, fanatical Christian sects whose hatred is woven into the fabric of our country. But they also remind us that through constant effort, to confront, to talk, to resist and persist, it is possible to fashion loving communities out of hateful moments.

Our Movement Moment
Tawana Honeycomb Petty
The year 2017 has proven to be a year of movement nostalgia. From the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s Time to Break Silence speech, to the commemorations around the long hot summer of 1967 where rebellions sprung up all across the globe (most prominently in Detroit); to the ramping up of white counter-revolutionary forces and the reemergence of the Poor People’s Campaign.
I spent the last few years trying to convince myself that this country isn’t moving rapidly backwards, yet the strategies of the revolution and counter-revolution appear eerily familiar.
I find myself revisiting writings and speeches as far back as 1970 by James “Jimmy” and Grace Boggs, such as The Awesome Responsibilities of Revolutionary Leadership.
In this speech Jimmy and Grace proclaimed partly:

“Meanwhile, in fact, overall conditions in the black community have been deteriorating, while at the same time the spontaneous activities of the black street masses and the much publicized but futile reform efforts of the white power structure have aroused the “white backlash,” which is only another name for the fascist counter-revolution.

There is little point in complaining about the skillful use of the Almighty American Dollar to co-opt Black Power or the rise of the fascist counter-revolution. In confusing, undermining, and mobilizing to repress the black movement, white power is only doing what its self-interest dictates. If the fault lies anywhere, it is with the black movement for failing to arm the black community theoretically and politically against the predictable strategy and tactics of the enemy and to make clear that fascism cannot be stopped short of a total revolution dedicated to ending man’s domination of man and his fear of those whom he dominates.
To do this, the black movement must recognize and keep pointing out the limits of what can be achieved by the black masses, for the same reason that Lenin insisted on the limits of what could be achieved by the spontaneous eruptions of Russian workers. The spontaneity of the workers does not take them beyond the level of the immediate, palpable, concrete interests of the everyday economic struggle, as Lenin kept pointing out. In a similar vein, black revolutionists must realize that the spontaneous eruptions of the black masses do not take them beyond the demand that white power alleviate their accumulated grievances, no matter how angry or explosive the masses are or how much Black Power talk and symbolism accompany their actions. Reliance upon spontaneity is, therefore, a form of liberalism because, in effect, it increases the illusion that the issues and grievances of the masses can be resolved without taking power away from those in power.”
I find myself questioning how much we have really learned from the past. I have always been taught that if you don’t know your history, you are doomed to repeat it. I question that sentiment, because a lot of us now know our history, but it seems we are still on a trajectory to repeat it. The question for me now becomes, what then should be pulled from our history and what should be left behind?

As the reemergence of the Poor People’s Campaign ramps up, I grow more concerned about this movement moment. I worry about the counter-revolution utilizing the energy of our elder and yelder (young elder) revolutionaries to whip on the momentum of our young revolutionaries. I worry about the narrative of the acceptable negro vs. the rabble rousers. A narrative that has often been used to compare Dr. King to the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM). A narrative that has been flung around as punishment for youthful radicalism with a Dr. King and Stokley-esq tension that has been revived and nurtured consistently over the past several years. “What would Dr. King do?” has been leveraged as a weapon against millennial activism.

We live in a moment that allows for Black Lives Matter activists to be deemed “terrorists” and “purveyors of hate” by members of the United States Government, and right-wing racists over the internet – with little uproar from the left. A moment that has placed, and continues to place youthful activists at extreme risk of being assassinated, permanently incarcerated and disappeared like many of their predecessors from the Black Panther Party. Yet, with all that these young activists and organizers have sacrificed, I rarely hear of any of them being deemed by the movement as political prisoners or revolutionaries.

Many young activists (particularly since Ferguson) who have sided with BLM have obtained felonies through their activism. Many have been harassed and threatened with violence, or worse, some have mysteriously been killed with little to no recourse for their assassinations.

I am grateful to see the fervor of activists and organizers of all generations moving in pursuit of their passions. In the words of Grace, “It’s a great time to be alive,” however, it is my hope that we do not lose sight of the fact that we are all in this together. That the struggle for liberation is multifaceted, and there has been no strategy to date that has liberated us all from the grasp of this violent system of white supremacy, nurtured by ruthless capitalism and militarism.

I am also hopeful that white allies in the struggle against white supremacy will start to move from actors on behalf of black people and people of color, toward co-liberators who recognize that their own humanity is wrapped up into the very same system that is seeking to destroy us.

I recognize, and have been taught that “all contradictions are not antagonistic,” but I also know that they can be, if left unaddressed.

All Power to Us All!

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Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:

You can contribute directly at our website:  –  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership


3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214

  Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
March 20th, 2017
1967 Shock Waves Flyer 5

Thinking for Ourselves
Beyond Toxic Talk
Shea HowellHow we talk is intimately connected to how we think. Words define our world and give meaning to our lives. Thus, one of the many dangers of this moment is the deterioration of our capacities for political thought. When public values are reduced to single words, blasted in all capital letters on Twitter, we are all diminished. BAD, SAD, FAKE, LIES are judgments devoid of substance, but they infiltrate our consciousness and erode our conversations.In sharp contrast to this dismal use of language, people around the country are consciously moving to deepen our capacity for reflection, conversation, strategic thinking, and powerful action. There is a growing recognition that actions must be enriched by reflection, that the path to a better future requires collective efforts to create a new vision.

For example,

Movement for Black Lives provides a thoughtful agenda about the kind of future we can create.  They invite everyone to join in the conversation and study of their platform saying, “We have created this platform to articulate and support the ambitions and work of Black people. We also seek to intervene in the current political climate and assert a clear vision, particularly for those who claim to be our allies, of the world we want them to help us create. We reject false solutions and believe we can achieve a complete transformation of the current systems, which place profit over people and make it impossible for many of us to breathe.” They invite us to study, think, argue and act in relation to these broad, visionary projections.Recently,

Movement Generation offered a new Just Transition Zine in both English and Spanish. The Zine “offers a framework for a fair shift to an economy that is ecologically sustainable, equitable and just for all its members.”They explain, “A Just Transition requires us to build a visionary economy for life in a way that is very different than the economy we are in now. Constructing this visionary economy calls for strategies that democratize, decentralize and diversify economic activity while we damper down consumption, and (re)distribute resources and power.  This zine is our offering towards that end – it is a humble point of departure for folks interested in building collective vision and action towards Ecological Justice that does not separate humans from nature, or social equity from ecological integrity.”

This week the Women’s March named its 5th action of the first 100 days

Reflect and Resist. Organizers say the action, “is designed to educate some, and refresh others, through study, reflection, and courageous conversations, so that we can all be empowered by, and learn from, the work of activists who came before us while being mindful not to perpetuate the mistakes of the past. Community is key to activism, so bring your huddles, neighbors, and your march partners back together, collectively choose a book or article to read, or film to watch. Take time to reflect and, together, discuss the topics that they highlight and the issues that women experiencing multiple forms of oppression have faced and continue to face”.The

National Council of Elders is asking us to organize public readings of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Breaking the Silence speech, to reinvigorate his call for a radical revolution of values against racism, materialism and militarism. They ask us to hold conversations following the reading about what his ideas mean for us today.These are just a few of the efforts emerging around our country. They are essential to counter the toxic talk flowing from those in authority. They are acts of resistance and of vision.  All of us need to join in creating these spaces for collective reflection. They are the sources of our best hopes.


Detroit No More Heroes Event

What We’re Reading

Giving Up Toxic Masculinity To Build Real Resistance
Frank Joyce

Fifty years ago the times were tumultuous, as they are now. Activists were fragmented by gender, race, tactics and issue silos then too. The machinery of surveillance and repression by local, state and federal government was intense and about to become more so.

Despite knowing the risk of speaking out, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King stepped forward to offer clarity and direction. His speech, Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence [3] was delivered on April 4, 1967, to an overflow crowd at Riverside Church in New York City.

Now the speech is receiving new attention, not for reasons of wistful nostalgia but as a vision even more relevant to our times than it was then. To learn more about events already organized to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “A Time to Break Silence” speech or how to help initiate one yourself, go here [4].

In his speech, Dr. King identified the triplets of racism, militarism and materialism as the legacy we must overcome. Why triplets? Rabbi Arthur Waskow, a peace movement veteran, explains [5]: “Why did Dr. King use the word ‘triplets’ when ‘three’ or ‘triad’ would have been enough? Perhaps because biological triplets share a great deal of their DNA. What DNA do these triplets share? The DNA of subjugation, of top-down power.”

To be clear, Dr. King’s remarks did not incorporate the possibility of ecocatastrophe or the structures of patriarchy and sexism into his analysis and call. Can there be any doubt that today he would?



contact or summit material

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership


3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214

Jimmy and Grace  
Living for Change News
January 31st – February 6
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

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

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. 


\image 2Deconstructing White Supremacy - (8)






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


3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214

Boggs Center – Living for Change News – Martin Luther King jr Day

  Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
Thinking for Ourselves
Breaking Silence
Shea Howell
This year there is a poignant urgency to the celebrations of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Across the country people are gathering to celebrate, honor, and remember the movement and vision that called our country to find its best traditions and just promise. Everyone is mindful that these gatherings are happening in the shadow of the inauguration of a man who is the antithesis of all Dr. King represented.King would be 88 years old now, an age where many are still offering wisdom and counsel. Yet because of the kind of wisdom and counsel he was compelled to give us, he was killed. That wisdom is best captured in his speech given at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, “A Time to Break the Silence.” That was 50 years ago. It was his most searing indictment of the war in Vietnam, his deepest call to creating beloved communities.

King said, “When I speak of love I am not speaking about some sentimental and weak response…Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality…Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. We must find new ways to speak and act for peace and justice…If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

The “dark and shameful corridors” are pressing in on us. And so Dr. King’s call to action is fiercely urgent. He asked us to “rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter—but beautiful—struggle for a new world.”

It is this call that is animating renewed energy in our country. Thousands of people are gathering in Washington D.C. and communities across this land to publicly declare opposition to the policies and practices that threaten to poison our souls.

Dr. King said, “It is the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.”

In this spirit Movement for Black Lives has called for a Pledge of Resistance and a week of non violent, direct action stating, “The Movement for Black Lives continued in the tradition of civil disobedience and direct action to reclaim the narrative of the Civil Rights Movement from corporate America, Hollywood, and others bent on sanitizing Black history rooted in radical tradition. #ReclaimMLK is a call to connect our contemporary movements, and to eschew respectability in order to embrace the radical courage of our people in the present. Today, as many ask us to “wait and see” and “respect” politicians aimed at hurting us, that original call is even more urgent.”

The National Council of Elders is calling for people to move with this courage to organize public readings of “A Time to Break the Silence” and ask hard questions about what it means for us today.

In this last year of life, Dr. King was becoming increasingly aware of the need for revolution. He said, “We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values…When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

Our country is at a turning point. Dr. King reminds us, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” Now is the time to give new and renewed voice to determine our future together.

PTOflyer Call for Session Proposals
THE 22nd Annual Pedagogy & Theater of the Oppressed Conference
Breaking the Silence: From Rebellion to Waging Love”

Submit proposals by Friday, January 20th, 2017.

WHEN: June 1st – June 4th, 2017
•    Pre-Conference with Julian Boal May 30th-June 1st
•    Welcome Event on June 1st
•    Workshops June 2nd-4th

WHERE:  Cass Corridor Commons, 4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI, USA, a city with a rich history of activism and organizing.

WHAT: A chance to LEARN, SHARE, QUESTION, and CONNECT through interactive techniques developed by Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal, and other people working to fight oppression and create justice. Learn more about Freire and Boal and their work at

WHO: YOU. Students, teachers, scholars, artists, activists, organizers. People of all ages, places, identities, experiences. If you want to build dialogue and make a more just world, you are invited, you are welcomed, and you are NEEDED.

WHY: The 22 Annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference will be held in Detroit, MI commemorating the 50th Anniversary of 1967 Detroit Rebellion and Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence – in which he called for a radical revolution in values in the struggle against the evil triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism—and looking toward the future. Read more here.

Detroit Visionary Resisters
Tawana Honeycomb Petty

As the country experiences the turmoil that is American politics, many people in Detroit are showing visionary resistance to the status quo.

Whether it’s Pastor Barry’s call to action, artist, educator Walter Bailey’s hope to transform nature through art, Complex Movements building better futures, or Halima Cassells, Jerry Hebron and others making a life without money, Detroiters are once again exhibiting brilliance and resiliency in the face of adversity.

In 1964, Dr. King said, “Now, this economic problem is getting more serious because of many forces alive in our world and in our nation. For many years, Negroes were denied adequate educational opportunities. For many years, Negroes were even denied apprenticeship training. And so, the forces of labor and industry so often discriminated against Negroes. And this meant that the Negro ended up being limited, by and large, to unskilled and semi-skilled labor. Now, because of the forces of automation and cybernation, these are the jobs that are now passing away. And so, the Negro wakes up in a city like Detroit, Michigan, and discovers that he is 28 percent of the population and about 72 percent of the unemployed. Now, in order to grapple with that problem, our federal government will have to develop massive retraining programs, massive public works programs, so that automation can be a blessing, as it must be to our society, and not a curse.

Then the other thing when we think of this economic problem, we must think of the fact that there is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a segment in that society which feels that it has no stake in the society, and nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a number of people who see life as little more than a long and desolate corridor with no exit sign. They end up with despair because they have no jobs, because they can’t educate their children, because they can’t live in a nice home, because they can’t have adequate health facilities.”

As we look around at the conditions that plague our communities some 53 years after Dr. King gave this speech, we now know that our dignity and our humanity lies within the hands of those willing to struggle towards Dr. King’s later call for a radical revolution of values.

We now know that we must create while we resist.

“I don’t know what the next American revolution is going to be like, but we might be able to imagine it if your imagination were rich enough.” – Grace Lee Boggs

Luckily, we know a lot of visionaries.


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.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214

Jimmy and Grace  
Living for Change News
November 28th – December 5th
We Have Much To Learn From Cuba
Grace Lee Boggs – 1996This was my first visit to Cuba and it was only for a week. My sense was that the Cuban people, by recommitting themselves to the struggle for socialism, are beginning to recover from the crisis caused by the loss of Soviet aid. In the process they seemed to be creating an alternative vision for Third World countries and perhaps even for deindustrialized cities like Detroit which must now rebuild, redefine, and respirit themselves from the ground up. The highlight of the visit was attending the 17th Cuban Trade Congress, the theme of which was Se Puede Multos Juntos- Together We Can.

The Congress gave me a sense of how real and how spiritual the struggle for socialism is in Cuba, how it is energized not only by necessities of physical survival but by love and the profound conviction that by working together we can resolve our contradictions, create a better and more just world for ourselves and our children, and advance the evolution of the human race….

The Congress ended with a two and a half hour speech by Fidel. I felt enormously privileged to be watching the 70-year old bearded revolutionary, the only one of the great 20th century leaders who is still with us, still developing his ideas before our very eyes….

“We must apply and expand our positive experiences, do with what we have, make better use of what we have, treasure the knowledge of our people, continue to live by the values we have developed during the revolution. We must improve a lot, gain greater knowledge, day by day, progress. We need more initiative, more creativity; we need to combine moral with material incentives. Our enemy hated us just because we have done what we consider to be more just and noble, because we want the very best not only for our people but for all the people in the world. That is why we are so proud and happy to call ourselves internationalists, socialists, communists.”

The vision of self-reliance projected by Fidel is clearly an idea whose time has come for people all over the Third World, a combination of decentralization and centralization which offers an alternative to the capitalist road of economic development imposed by the IMF and the multinationals, which is causing such impoverishment and immiseration in Africa and Latin America.

In Detroit and other de-industrialized cities of North America, we increasingly face the choice between two roads of economic development. Is our only option developer-driven casino gambling, new sports stadiums, suburban-like subdivisions inside the city built for the middle class-all of which reinforce capitalist values and consumerism, thus breeding more crime and violence? Or can we struggle together to build cities that are more self-reliant, growing our own food and producing our own clothing and shelter in environmentally-friendly worker-owned and cooperative enterprises, thus internalizing the concepts of efficiency and self-sufficiency, accounting and control, and setting an example of productive work for our young people?

One night we went to a block party, and as the community activist in the delegation, I made a brief presentation. I said that I had to come to Cuba to learn how to make the revolution in the United States which would liberate people all over the world. I described the devastation in Detroit following our abandonment by multinational corporations and the struggles we are now engaged in to rebuild our communities and our cities. I said I wished that I could bottle the spirit of love of people, love of community, love of country that I found in Cuba and take it back with me. The United States is not a developing Third World country, but we have much to learn from Cuba.

Excerpt from Grace Lee Boggs, “Cuba: Love and Self-Reliance,” Monthly Review (December 1996).

Dear Friends and Comrades of the Boggs Center, 

We are deeply grateful for all of the support you have given to us over the years.
As we face a tremendous moment of both crisis and opportunity, we feel an enormous responsibility to continue the commitment to revolutionary and visionary work and resistance that was at the heart of the lives and works of Grace and Jimmy.
We also believe that at this “time on the clock of the world,” their vision of possibilities for a new America are not only relevant, but urgent.
As 2016 comes to an end, we are asking for your support. 
Please visit our website to make a donation or send checks to 
Boggs Center
3061 Field St
Detroit, MI

Thinking for Ourselves

Educational Oppurtunities
Shea Howell

With Donald Trump’s pick of Betsy DeVos to head the US Department of Education, the country is in store for a direct assault on public education. This is not hyperbole. Betsy DeVos has been the main architect of the systematic destruction of Detroit Public Schools and all those schools in Michigan serving poor, urban, black and brown children.

Devos is widely acknowledged as the “main driver of the entire state’s school overhaul.” In Detroit this “overhaul” has been a disaster. For most of her adult life Betsy DeVos has pushed an extremist, right wing corporate agenda to privatize schools, attack unions and promote conservative values.

As educational leader Diane Ravitch noted, DeVos “does not hide her contempt for the public schools.” National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen Garcia said, “her efforts over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students.”

Destroying local democratic control has been a key strategy in her efforts to privatize public education. After a failed effort in 2000 to get vouchers into the Michigan Constitution, DeVos launched a national organization to encourage pro voucher candidates and conservative values. Today they claim a 121-60 win-loss record. She heads the American Federation for Children that dumped millions into efforts to promote schools of choice.

DeVos has millions to dump. Her husband Dick DeVos is heir to the Amway fortune and her brother is Erik Prince, the founder of the notorious private security firm Blackwater. Blackwater reinvented itself since being exposed for murders in Iraq and is tied to the security forces at Standing Rock.

In 2014 Mother Jones documented the investment of the DeVos and Prince families in ideologically extreme causes. They reported:

THE DEVOSES sit alongside the Kochs, the Bradleys, and the Coorses as founding families of the modern conservative movement. Since 1970, DeVos family members have invested at least $200 million in a host of right-wing causes—think tanks, media outlets, political committees, evangelical outfits, and a string of advocacy groups. They have helped fund nearly every prominent Republican running for national office and underwritten a laundry list of conservative campaigns on issues ranging from charter schools and vouchers to anti-gay-marriage and anti-tax ballot measures.”

The failure of her schemes to improve education in Detroit is well documented. Detroit has the second largest share of students in charter schools, 44 percent, coming behind New Orleans. Every year nearly $1 billion of taxpayer money goes to charter schools, most of them for profit enterprises and most doing a miserable job. In addition they are defunding public schools, forcing students to endure deplorable conditions and impossible learning environments. The failure of the DeVos initiated programs have lead to a recent federal lawsuit claiming the state has utterly failed in its obligation to provide basic literacy for children.

Just as Detroit shows where DeVos will try and take the country, we also have some solutions. We have a long history of independent, culturally strong schools that have supported and loved our children.  Networks of teachers, parents and students are coming together to develop new forms of education that engage students as “solutionaries,” using their imagination and creativity to solve community problems.

Recently the Detroit Independent Freedom Schools emerged as an alternative to the destruction of public education. Inspired by the freedom schools of the African American liberation movements its mission is to create “free, African-centered, loving educational experiences for Detroit children and families, to mobilize community volunteers and resources, cultivate community strength and self-determination, and build movement-based futures.”

Information about the schools can be found at the Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management and through the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American history that hosts one of the five active sites on Saturday mornings.

The election of Donald Trump brings a vast, right wing force together to turn every public activity into a private profit center. It will attack basic notions of democracy, decency, and public trust. But in many places people have been resisting these very forces for a long time. We need to draw on the lessons we are learning to protect our children and secure our futures.

comm_tech_handbook (1)

The Detroit Community Technology Project (DCTP) is excited to present the “Teaching Community Technology Handbook”. This 100+ page handbook will take you through the history of popular education while offering a step-by-step guide to developing community rooted technology workshops and curricula. The handbook introduces Community Technology as a series of educational practices, combining theories and methods by Paulo Freire, Myles Horton, Grace Lee Boggs, Bernice McCarthy, Susan Morris, Grant P Wiggins, and Jay McTighe.


Thoughts on Learning
Piper Martine Carter

This morning I woke up early around 3am to spend a few hours reading from & about James Baldwin & Richard Wright. Why? I have no clue, Spirit just moved me to do so. As a child I was introduced to them around 3rd grade attending Nataki Talibah School House of Detroit.

At Nataki We learned about Africa as the Mother of Civilization & its People the Originators of Math, Sciences, Writing, & Everything. We were introduced to so many Black figures through our other subjects because it was a part of our overall curriculum. African History or Black History was not labeled as such, it was labeled as History. Neither was African American Literature, it was simply Literature.

We learned about every Civilization, Kingdom, Dynasty, Tribe, from around The Continent. We learned Geography and about The Diaspora from an African Centered perspective. We learned the truth about the Slaughter of Native Americans & the fake history that was created to glorify & reframe the atrocity that took place. We learned about all of the atrocities & triumphs.

Arts & Culture was just as Important as our Academic Subjects, so much so, that it was infused into all our other subjects. We were taught sciences along with arts and historical figures, the same in math & each subject.

I Loved the cool, authentic, animated poetry of Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni (who visited our 3rd grade classroom & I got to talk to her & read her my haikus). I also Loved reading the many AutoBiographies & Biographies of colorful figures such as Malcolm X, Billie Holiday, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Zora Neal Hurston, Countee Cullen & so many, many, many, many more.

My Mom has always been an avid reader and at home we had designated reading & study time. She gave me homework outside of my school work. She also introduced me to Plays & Detroit Writers. I’d have to do book reports & summaries just for her. And she’d actually read them & correct them & make me do rewrites.

I struggled through reading fiction, I found it uninteresting & preferred Real Life stories. I actually am still that way today, I cannot pull myself to read fiction, it feels like torture. I Prefer Non-Fiction, except for Octavia Butler. I’ve read All of her books & Love them.

When I moved back to NYC to live with my Dad in Middle School I attended a mixed school and was in Honors classes. We read “The Diary of Anne Frank”, lots of Edgar Allen Poe & Shakespeare, & a bunch of other stuff on your typical 7th grade reading list.

When I asked my 7th grade teacher who happened to be Caucasian if we were going to read any Black Authors, I was met with “we have to accomplish our required reading list. why don’t you do that on your own?”

Needless to say, I suffered from culture shock. Not only because I was physically & socially separated from other Black & Brown students through being in Honors classes, but because our stories weren’t valued as a necessary part of our Education.

This is how I ended up spending so much time at the library. I followed my Teacher’s advice and fortunately, the Librarian was a Black Woman, who I had gone to for refuge. She would smile so big when she saw me & hand me at least 3 or 4 books everyday. “I can’t read all this”. “Yes you can, I’m just putting these aside for you, you’ll have til the end of the month”.

It was mostly fiction. Because of her, I read the actual works of Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, & so many others whose Biographies I had read in elementary school at Nataki. If she hadn’t pushed me I wouldn’t have read any of those books on my own. She helped me get outside my comfort zone and learn about literature and writing. She would also discuss the books with me as if I were an adult helping me understand the nuances in language and descriptions that seemed foreign to me at the time. She was Awesome.

When I got to Public high school in Detroit, we had lots of writing assignments but very limited reading assignments. We only had reading assignments from our text books. And those only contained short stories. I was in honors classes my entire high school career.

I don’t remember much of anything we read back then. But I do remember that I Loved my Teachers, well the ones that were toughest on me. I remember Mrs. Tinsley & Mrs. Ellis, my 12th & 11th grade English Teachers. They gave us such a hard time. Our school work was so easy. I would go to them after class & they’d give me extra assignments & suggest books to read. I’d go to the Teachers lounge during lunch & discuss the books with them. Sometimes they’d kick me out. They’d give me extra writing assignments. And they wrote me recommendation letters to get scholarships & to get into Howard University.

When I got to Howard University, we had to test into our levels. Despite being in National Honor Society & graduating with All A’s, I tested into the remedial levels. This devastated me. I had received 6 different National Academic Scholarships (only one person in the country wins based on a written essay). I had been in Honors forever. How could this happen?

Well, they have different standards. I had to take the remedial classes that garnered zero credits in order to take my required classes. I attended summer school and also took extra credit classes and got all A’s in order to catch up. Thank goodness I did.
And Thank goodness that In Basic History at Howard our required “text books” were reading from Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, & we learned how to read more critically W.E.B. Dubois & Carter G. Woodson & others.

Anyhoo, I think about what kind of world we would be living in if everyone everywhere learned about the origin of African history as basic world history, if any of these Black Authors, Historians, & figures were introduced from a young age throughout everyone’s educational careers, if everyone learned about the contributions of African People throughout the Diaspora over the course of time.
I also think about the removal of Education, including the removal of History, Arts & Culture, and the building of prisons. And the History being made right now.

And then I think about the work I’m involved in with Detroit Independent Freedom Schoolsl and how I’m learning from Dr. Mama Aneb House of the historic S.N.C.C (Student NonViolent Coordinating Committee) that emerged from Ella Baker and was led by Stokely Carmichael aka Kwame Toure & all the work they did.

And I think about our Legacy, and about the Young People we’re impacting & who are impacting us right now.

On Cuba
Rachel Harding

One of these days I’m going to write a long piece about my trips to Cuba in 1976, 1981, 1992 and 2001. I’m going to write about how when I first got off the plane in Havana as a Black teenager from Atlanta, Georgia (recently transplanted to Philly) I was enthralled to see all those beautiful Black people who looked like my family and spoke Spanish.

I’m going to write about the handsome, sweet Cuban boys who flirted with me and about how I went to a socialist children’s camp in Varadero Beach and spent a summer with kids from all over the non-capitalist world.

I’m going to write about returning home and feeling absolutely BOMBARDED with advertising because billboards and commercials are everywhere in the US and few and far between in Cuba. I’m going to write about how my lifelong love affair with the orishas and ñañigos started in Cuba and finally settled me in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil at the Terreiro do Cobre.

I’m going to write about how Cuban babalawos have repeatedly given me erudite, lifesaving advice and affirmation that I carry with me to this day, how I felt safer walking down the streets in Havana at night than I have ever felt in any US city.

I’m going to write about visiting in the “special period” and having my heart rended by the suffering of the Cuban people who did not have rich relatives and friends in the US to send money for them to buy food on the blackmarket. How it felt like the whole country was a quilombo, a fugitive slave community with people making ways out of no ways, in the dark.

I’m going to write about how Cuba gave me a diasporic Black identity.

I’m going to write about the negro viejo in Santiago who knew the details of my mother’s miseries without me ever saying a word. I’m going to write about going with my brother-poet Vincent Woodard to a consultation with Ifa in 2001 and returning home days before the US turned into a fortress. And there is a picture somewhere of me on a hill two people away from Fidel and how all my life he stood for the insistence of Third World People, Oppressed People, People of Color, Black People — to be Free. To be self-determining. To live literate, healthy, productive, culturally-rich lives of solidarity out from under the fetid thumbs of the oligarchs of the USA. Fidel, more than anybody living into the 21st century, represented that EFFORT. And when I got the news he died, I felt like I’d lost another father.


Identity Politics and Left Activism
Immanual Wallerstein
Monthly Review

The biggest internal debate absorbing the world left for at least the last seventy-five years has been whether identity is a left concept and therefore a left concern. In 1950, most activists on the left would have said no. Today a majority would say yes, indeed. But the debate remains fierce. KEEP READING

The Power of the Movements Facing Trump
Michael Hardt & Sandro Mazzadra
ROAR Magazine

It is much too early to say to what extent President Trump will enact his campaign promises as government policy and, indeed, how much he will actually be able to do in office. But every day since his election demonstrations have sprung up throughout the United States to express outrage, apprehension and dismay.

Moreover, there is no doubt that once in office Trump and his administration will continually do and say things that will inspire protest. For at least the next four years people in the US will rally and march against his government, regularly and in large numbers. Protesting against threats to the environment will undoubtedly be urgent, as will be the generalized atmosphere of violence against people of color, women, LGBTQ populations, migrants, Muslims, workers of various sorts, the poor — and the list goes on. KEEP READING

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


3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214

bc_logo-2016 Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
October 31st – November 7th
Does this election season have you feeling sad, isolated, angry, or hopeless? Join us for a night of celebrating community, movement, and struggle at the Cass Corridor Commons.

Instead of spending the election disappointed, frustrated, and alone we will come together to remind each other of why we fight and will continue to fight. This event is open to all those who believe in justice, liberation, freedom, and love.

There will be a separate space for election monitoring, an org fair with food vendors and ways to get involved, and an open mic followed by a dance party featuring local DJs. Come for part or stay all night.

We’re asking for a $5 donation at the door, but no one will be turned away! This is a fundraiser for the Cass Commons, a space where movement work never ends.
Interested in tabling at the event?
Email for more info.


Support The Party that Supports You!!

Thinking for Ourselves

Freedom Schools Are Open
Shea Howell
About 200 people attended the community conversation on the crisis in education hosted this week-end at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The event was organized by the Detroit Independent Freedom School initiative. It was a gathering marked by love, hope and righteous anger.


The program opened with the call to remember,  “Education is about becoming the best human being you can possibly become.” Young people took center stage to frame the reality of what they face on a daily basis. Some of what they talked about was all too familiar to those of us who have witnessed the destruction of public education.  They explained how they saw programs cut back, classes cancelled, basic courses eliminated, and teachers struggling to teach subjects for which they were not prepared.


On a deeper level, the young people reflected on the assaults on their sense of possibilities. One young woman talked about her desire to be challenged and her disappointment at being in a system where “we are basically robots.” Another asked, “How is anybody supposed to grow in an environment that just puts them down?” They talked of hopes to be journalists, facing school without English teachers, dreams of being a cardiologist while being harassed by attendance offices, pushing them toward the juvenile system.


They also talked about how the lack of response from adults moved them to take actions for their own education. After losing teachers and having no one respond to letters protesting this, one young person said. “So I joined a coalition about education. I realized that this is happening throughout the district. I know it is not my fault, not my schools fault, and that I have a good home base with a mother and father who help me, but what about the people who don’t have that at home? I am not the only student in public schools with no math teacher, no AP teacher, nothing to prepare them for tests.” Echoing the desire to organize with other students, learning “life lessons inside and outside the classroom,” students talked about organizing Freedom School discussions in classes, working to create funds to deal with economic discrimination, and putting washers and dyers in schools. “We shouldn’t have to do this,” but it is necessary.


The students concluded saying, “Tell the truth, believe in us, make us feel wanted.”


These demands provided the backdrop for remarks by Professor Thomas Pedroni of Wayne State University. He gave a picture of the destruction of public education beginning in the late 1990’s at a time when DPS had a budget surplus and test scores were strong and rising.  He said we need to “Understand the relationship between this struggle over schools and whose city this is.  Understand how degraded our curriculum has become, and how powerful it could be.  School could be one of the most meaningful places in our community, where people know how to fight for their communities instead of just a place to produce test scores.”

Helen Moore, long time community activist talked about how she was compelled to “Free our children from slavery” and would not stand by and “see our children abused” as people made money off their suffering.


Professor Aurora Harris spoke of the importance of protecting our children with special needs from bullying and abuse and about the devastating impact of school closings on them. She called on us to “keep special education children in our hearts and minds, to not forget them” and to insist they have the full protection of the law.


Professor Melvin Peters said the education of black children had deep roots in America. He quoted David Walker in 1829 saying that that “as long as we’ve been here, whites have had problems with blacks being educated.” He emphasized the importance of an African American centered curriculum and children being taught by people they can identify with.


Kamau Kheperu closed saying, “The spirit of Mississippi Freedom schools is right here…We have to save our babies, we have to support public education, we have to provide supplemental education for our youth. Now what are you all going to do?”


Community members stepped up to share ideas and over 100 people signed up to join in the Freedom School Movement. One participant said, “It’s not about us. It is about our children. No one will stand up for our children but us. We need to become the working examples for our children.”


Connect with Freedom Schools @ 
313.583-9395 or




An Interview with Rev. Joan Ross on Michigan Radio talking Proposal A.


From our Friends at Soulardarity

I’m really excited to announce the recent launch of, a website showing Soulardarity’s proposal to the city of Highland Park, the benefits of municipal solar lighting, and our history of work building energy democracy.


Please check out the site, share it, and help us to boost it! You can check out and download the videos on this vimeo page:


I’ll be boosting more of the videos the videos over FB this week, you can track that via our page:


I’ve got a few asks based on the things you can do on the page:

  • SHARE the page on FB
  • ENDORSE the proposal with you organizations
  • JOIN as members

Thanks all.
Jackson Koeppel

Director@Soulardarity – become a member today!




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

{R}evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership


3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214

Jimmy and Grace  
Living for Change News
September 26th – October 1, 2016
DIFS Generic Flyer (Sept 2016)

Thinking for Ourselves

Parade of Preachers
Shea Howellshea25This week a parade of preachers swept into the Detroit Board of Water Commissioners. They were protesting drainage charges about to be levied across the city. Preachers called for a “moratorium on drainage charges.” They were “appalled” at the “ungodly” charges. They said they were “called to be here by God” to demand an answer to the question of “why should we have to pay for what comes from God?”This was a sad display of what has become of our many of our local churches.

The obvious question is simply “Where have you been?” For more than two years, community organizations have been demanding a city-wide conversation to develop policies reflecting the basic understanding that water is a human right. All human beings should have access to safe, affordable water.  

Where were the voices of preachers as 3000 households experienced shut offs every week? Where were these preachers as organizers established water stations? Where were they as people of faith blocked the shut off trucks from leaving the garage? Where were they as children went to schools to wash up and brush their teeth?

Where were the preachers when home after home faced foreclosure? Where were they when the elderly workers of the city bore more than 70% of the bankruptcy burden? Where were they when the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department was turned into a regional affair, almost certain to guarantee greater burdens for the city?

Self interest, not care for the community, seems their only motivation. As a result, their protests are hollow. They offer brittle pronouncement, uninspired by faith or compassion.

Certainly some of our congregations challenge the money changers, the powers and principalities.  But most have been silent in the face of an increasingly brutal division between the small, whiter and wealthier downtown and neglected neighborhoods.  Most have been silent as violence escalates. Most are content to collect offerings, closing doors to chaos and pain.

This is not by accident.  More than 30 years ago, right wing think tanks realized that gatherings of people of faith were a powerful force for justice.  Step by step they began to develop policies that pulled churches and synagogues away from radical visions.

In reaction to the Civil Rights movement, right wing leaders developed a form of conservative religious politics, using the cover of religion to mask white supremacy, homophobia, and the desire to dominate women.  In reaction to school desegregation, for example, Christian academies sprang up, ultimately laying claim to public dollars through charters and vouchers.

Churches were pulled toward conservative stands through money. In 1989, President George H. Bush introduced the idea that social services should be provided by “points of light.” This was followed in 2001 when his son, George W. used executive powers to circumvent long held divisions between church and state.  Under Bush II faith based initiatives became a top priority. Churches were tied into federal and foundation dollars, providing programs that had once been offered by governments. Now public funds not only provide direct services but money to construct, repair and maintain buildings. Religious leaders learned being silent was the best way to keep dollars flowing. Detroit is reaping the effects of this silence.

Meanwhile, a few days after this shameless protest, two young artists faced a judge. They were surrounded by supporters and love. William Lucka and Antonio Cosme are charged with felonies for painting “Free the Water” on a Highland Park water tower in 2014.  They say it time to resist destruction of our neighborhoods, and to build more conscious communities. Preachers would do well to listen to our Artists.


(artwork by William Lucka)
an interview with Antonio Cosme of the Raiz Up Collective
by Shanna Merrola
In the spring of 2014, the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD) announced that a water shutoff quota would begin that March for residents either 60 days or 150 dollars overdue on payments.The unprecedented action of cutting off water to 3,000 households per week in a major U.S. city brought criticism, both nationally and internationally. News spread quickly due to the efforts of water rights activists in both the US and Canada, bringing representatives from the UN to Detroit in October of 2014. During their investigation at this time the United Nations declared that the city was violating thousands of residents’ fundamental human right to access clean, affordable water. Organizers also drew attention to the fact that corporate and large institutional accounts were never shut off, even though their debt was twice that of residential customers and urged for the implementation of a water affordability plan that would assist struggling households.

Instead, DWSD’s process for assistance with water bills was a frustrating, dehumanizing and bureaucratic farce. Residents reported spending hours attempting to make sense of bills that were convoluted and often inaccurate. They were given “assistance” phone numbers that rang endlessly without ever reaching a human being and stood in lines long hours just to learn they were not eligible for help due to missing, obscure deadlines.

During that first summer, community members and grassroots organizers created a rapid response network for water relief. The efforts included a water hotline for assistance in payment plans and water deliveries as well as door-to-door canvassing and the creation of neighborhood water stations. In addition to creating survival strategies through mutual aid, they also circulated petitions to change policy, filled City Council meetings, called press conferences to raise awareness and held endless protests for water rights throughout the city.

It’s been over two years since the aggressive shut-off campaign began, leaving some homes without water for months at a stretch, breaking up families and displacing residents. Not only have water shut offs massively contributed to Detroit’s foreclosure crisis (unpaid water bills can become a lien on a home), they also put parents at risk of losing their children to child protective services. The increasing injustices and struggle around the privatization of water in predominantly Black cities have since been compounded by the tragedy of Flint. And though media attention did help to raise awareness for a brief moment, the hype has since died down. The institutional problems remain and real people are still left suffering. When the camera crews leave, when reporters move onto the next big headline and when the legal system fails to provide protection for individuals over corporations, where do people turn to voice their outrage?


If you’d like a Mapping the Water Crisis book mailed to you go to, hit the donate button & pay $25; put your name, mailing address & email in the notes section. A book will be mailed to you within one week!

DREAMSpecial Screening and Panel Discussion
Tuesday, September 27 from 5-8m ET
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American HistoryDream On, a PBS documentary by award-winning producer and director, Roger Weisberg.

The film investigates the perilous state of the American Dream after decades of rising income inequality and declining economic mobility. In an epic road trip, political comedian John Fugelsang retraces the journey of Alexis de Tocqueville, whose study of our young country in 1831 came to define America as a place where any one, of any background, could climb the ladder of economic opportunity.
The event will kick off with the screening of the Dream On film followed by a panel discussion on the state of the American Dream — streamed liv
e on


PublicforumUofM 2
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


3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214

  Jimmy and Grace  
Living for Change News
August 28th – September 4th


Thinking for Ourselves

Ending Give-Aways
Shea Howell

Detroit has an historic opportunity to establish a new set of values for how development will take place in our city.  By voting for the People’s Community Benefit Agreement Ordinance, Proposal A, we will set in places processes to ensure developers give something back to the community in exchange for tax breaks and use of public funds.

This proposal has a long history. Beginning in 2012 with the resistance to the efforts by John Hantz to secure 10,000 acres on the East Side for pennies on the dollar, community members have been actively seeking ways to have a greater say over what happens to land in our neighborhoods.  Over the next 4 years we witnessed developer after developer making claims about why they need tax breaks. Marathon Oil got a $175 million tax abatement, and provided less than 25 jobs. During the bankruptcy process we watched the transfer of land to billionaire Ilitch for $1. This was after the decision to provide the majority of the $650 million for his new hockey stadium from public funds.

These are just a few examples of a long line of deals that have benefited private corporations and cost the public.

Proposal A would put an end to these kinds of “give- aways.” It would provide a framework for thoughtful discussion within a community about what impact a development might have on the quality of life. It provides the opportunity to systematically ask how to better support the whole community.

In a recent article in the Detroit News, Councilman Scott Benson argued that Detroit would be better served if we voted for his “enhanced” Community Benefits Agreement Ordinance.  Mr. Benson says it is important to separate “fact from fiction” and that “despite some rhetoric” his proposal is really not “anti-community.  Mr. Benson then goes on to provide some fantasies of his own. Most importantly he does not explain his own history in attempting to make sure developers are held accountable to the community.

Benson did everything he could to keep a real community benefit agreement from coming to the Council.  When faced with the citizen’s ballot initiative, he quickly crafted his own proposal. The only purpose of this proposal is to confuse voters.  It is based on the tired recycling of arguments that are inherently “anti-community.” They rest on the fear that people cannot be trusted to act openly, honestly, and with integrity as they consider the impact of large scale business developments in their neighborhood.

Moreover Benson, like all those who support his version, likes to reduce a CBA to the question of jobs for construction and contracts with local firms. Our history tells us that construction jobs rarely meet the “target goals” negotiated by officials.  And the demand to use “ Detroit based businesses” is open to corruption and misrepresentation.  More importantly, construction jobs are a minor part of multi-million dollar enterprises. Focusing only on construction jobs narrows the thinking of all involved.

Proposal A has a process that encourages community people and businesses together to think more broadly about what benefits a community receives over time. It looks to the broader questions of quality of life and ecological sustainability.

More than 5000 Detroiters petitioned to put Proposal A on the ballot. Now we need to organize to make sure a real community supported ordinance passes. 

The People’s CBO was designated as Proposal A and the ‘Enhanced’ Ordinance will appear as Proposal B.



If you’d like a Mapping the Water Crisis book mailed to you go to www.wethepeopleofdetroit. com, hit the donate button & pay $25; put your name, mailing address & email in the notes section. A book will be mailed to you within one week!

This training will specifically focus on peacemaking circles
(Teachers, Security Guards, Lunch Aides, Classroom Aides, Principles, Volunteers, etc. )
Saturday, September 10, 1pm-5pm
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
1950 Trumbull St.
Detroit, MI 48216

Complete Registration Form HERE

From this interactive workshop, you will learn about restorative practices, gain basic tools for leading a peacemaking circle, receive  information on integrating restorative practices in school settings, and leave with materials for continued practice and study.

$20-$50 sliding scale or non-monetary exchange
(no one will be turned away)
all proceeds will go to
the Detroit Area Restorative Justice Center.
Snacks and materials will be provided.
Please bring a pen, paper, and be ready to participate!

Please send questions to detroitrestorativejustice@gmai
Please complete Registration to RSVP

If you are not able to pay or would prefer to barter, please email back with what you would like barter and we can work out an exchange.

Sponsored by the Detroit Area Restorative Justice Center

The co-trainers are:

Marcia Lee began with Restorative Justice working with men with a history of domestic violence.  Through this work she recognized the importance of creating circles of accountability and support, inner work, and community building.  Now, her work in Restorative Justice focuses in the communities that she is a part of in Detroit and Hamtramck.  Marcia has a masters in Dispute Resolution and is a trained Peacemaking Circle keeper.  She is a co-founder of the Detroit Area Restorative Justice Center, tai chi practitioner, aspiring pun maker, directs Cap Corps Midwest, a full time volunteer program (similar to AmeriCorps), and coordinates the Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation for the Capuchin Franciscans.

Mindy Nathan came to realize the power of Restorative Justice by seeing how it changed her alternative high school’s staff and students, and their relationships to each other and the environment in positive ways. Mindy directed the Tri-County Educational Center for 8.5 years – it was the alternative high school program of Berkley Schools. Restorative “thinking” and practices are an essential component of a healthy school culture and are important facets of social-emotional learning and trauma-informed schools. Among other desirable outcomes, restorative practices build empathy and community among students and staff.  Mindy has been a school board trustee, a religious educator, a high school teacher and adjunct instructor in a business college. She is now employed as a learning specialist by the Education Achievement Authority (EAA).

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


3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214

A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity Myrtle Curtis

wayne_myrtleI recently traveled to Cuba on a learning journey. I went to experience a place I only read about or heard about in the news. I was there to engage as best I could despite limited Spanish. At home on my bookshelves are many books on Cuba, Che, Fidel Castro, Haydee Santamaria, and others.
These books and my life have taken me a long way from the images of Cuba I grew up with. As a child I heard that socialism and communism are anti American and will destroy life as we know it. Cuba was a place to flee from. It was not a place you would want to visit, let alone live there. I heard poverty is rampant, with a lack of shopping and basic freedoms.  I had been told people deserved to be cut off, punished, and left to their own devices.  After all, they rejected U.S. rules and money.
I have come to learn how much many people in our country see Cuba through fear and uncertainty. But through this journey I have been first hand schooled on how being revolutionary in principle creates strong folks filled with dignity and love.   My partner and I are lovers of justice, peace, the power of self-determination, all of the qualities that I read about in the books lining our shelves. As I spoke with folks in Cuba despite my limited Espanola, I never heard the words communism or any anti American rhetoric.  Quite the opposite, I was taught how much the people there want to be able to travel to the states.  The people were warm and welcoming, curious and excited about the possible lift of the blockade and look forward to an economic boost from tourism.
After all the country of Cuba is beautiful.  Yes some of its buildings are in need of repair and the citizens work hard for little pay, and there is much needed infrastructure work. Sound familiar? The fact that there is health care for all its people, no cost education for all, a food subsidy for everyone regardless of economic status and all social, cultural amenities are free or affordable to its people makes me think we have something to learn from this country.
As our tour guides, Rita Periera and Roberto Perez, spoke to us with a deep and genuine revolutionary love for the country and its people. They want Cuba to remain principled, with focuses on the cultural aspects of the country. The people are proud of their accomplishments in health, education, and arts, despite being cut off from trade with the U.S. and other countries.  The only counties that maintained relations were Mexico and Canada.  There is not an overburdened prison population, no part of this beautiful country is off limits to its people, and its health care is available to all, despite income.
Our guides were so insightful as we went through Old Havana. We strolled the Prado Promenade, visiting shops and Museums and amazing restaurants.  Roberto was amazing in his knowledge of anything to do with the environment and its protection.  His love of all things bio was so energetic.  We visited the Jovo urban agriculture farm, and the farm theater where actors live off of the land and perform there. There was art everywhere. Complete neighborhoods are dedicated to tile art and the work of  Jose Fuster called Muraleando. His work is so vast we could not see it all in one visit.  La Tanque was another neighborhood with recycled and reclaimed materials.  It was a wonderful place to have lunch.  Murals and creativity are prevalent along the roadways and neighborhoods.
There is so much to say about this wonderful learning journey, the music that told of Jose Marti and the revolutionary heroes.  I purchased cd’s from local musicians and singers.  I dined at neighborhood eateries as well as the DuPont Mansion. We visited a barely used, but swanky  Marina, saw a 700 yr old cactus tree, and even ventured inside caves.
I have many lasting memories of this journey to Cuba traveling with an engaging group of folks. Some I barely knew, some were complete strangers. By the end of our travels I had made beautiful connections and will share this experience always. I also had the added bonus of traveling with my 30yr old daughter and her son Seti who is four years old.  The Cuban people and our travel companions lavished him with love.  Seti learned the word abuelo (grandparent) because he was treated as one of their own.
My greatest take away will be how welcome I felt and the smiles and hugs of the Cuban people.  Oh yeah while I was there the weather was great until President Obama got there and brought storm clouds and high waves.



A Water Rights Tribubal
Rev. Bill Wiley-Kellerman                                                                       

Reverend Bill Wylie-Kellerman St. Peter's Episcopal Church Detroit ...

A Water Rights Tribunal organized by Detroiter’s Resisting Emergency Management heard testimony from witnesses in Flint and Detroit. Governor Snyder and Mayor Duggan were found guilty of Crimes Against the People as they have knowingly and willfully deprived citizens of the basic right to safe, affordable drinking water. Here are the opening remarks to the Tribunal offered by Rev. Bill Wiley-Kellerman. He presided over the Tribunal. 

The Peoples Tribunal on Water Crimes and Crimes against Democracy is hereby convened.

We are on the record with Case number 2016-H20justice

Tap gavel

Welcome to all present. I trust everyone is prepared to proceed.

I have before me the document convening this Tribunal which includes detailed charges. These have been made available to all present.

The defendants, Richard Snyder, Michael Duggan, Darnell Early, and Kevyn Orr, have been notified and duly summoned.  This document was sent them by registered mail.

For the record, I see that Misters Snyder and Duggan are present in effigy. I will issue peoples’ warrants for Misters Early and Orr.

Proceed with reading the summary of charges variously against them all:

As stated in the summons before you:

Crimes Against Democracy through Lawless Emergency Management
Poisoning the Water Supply of Flint and its People
Mass Water Shut Offs in Detroit
False Claims that Flint’s Water is Safe
False Claims that Making Water Affordable is Illegal
Breach of Public Trust in Water
Theft of the Commons
Ignoring the Will of the Voters and the Health and General Welfare of the People – as required by the constitution

In this matter, it is important to review the previous judicial history which has brought us to this Tribunal.

Emergency Management is a key instrument in a number of these crimes (and indeed a crime in and of itself)– it must be observed that PA4 was repealed by a majority of voters – only to have it repassed as PA 436– necessitating a People’s Tribunal

Fed Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes put a stay on the Federal Court challenge to PA 436 under the Voting Rights Act – thereby effectively legitimating the use of the law against every African American city in the state (Including Flint, Detroit, and Highland Park) – replacing ¾ of black public officials in MI with EMs – – necessitating a People’s Tribunal

In Fed Bankruptcy Court Richard Snyder testified that PA436 was not a violation of the Constitutional right to vote because an EM could be voted out after 18 months, And Yet his Attorney General prevailed in an Ingham Co. Court allowing that this applied only to a particular EM thereby, enabling him to keep DPS under direct gubernatorial rule for 5 years and counting, preventing all that time any forensic audit -–  thereby necessitating a People’s Tribunal

Since Judge Rhodes noted in his ruling (Lyda et al) that there is no Michigan law guaranteeing water as a human right, he thereby allowed mass shut-offs to continue. (Other states CA, MA, PA do affirm such a legal right). This has necessitated appeal to International bodies of law – UN Resolution 64/292 Jul 2010 “Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights.” – Denial of clean, safe, affordable water – necessitating a People’s Tribunal

Judge Rhodes ruled that an irreparable harm was being done to people of Detroit who were massively shut-off from water, but he allowed that the Court was unable and unwilling to prevent the harm – – necessitating a People’s Tribunal.

Since people in Detroit attempted to prevent that harm by blocking the water shut-off trucks from private contractor Homrich inc, from turning off water to hundreds of people in July of 2014 (38K over the year), these civil resisters have been charged but have so far been denied by the courts, use of the “necessity” or “justification” defense (which would demonstrate that they acted precisely to prevent the harm) . Hence, a People’s Tribunal has been required.

Since two of those blockaders have now all but completed a jury trial – a jury being the last vestige of democracy in a city under EM – and during closing arguments and instructions to the jury – the head of Mr Duggan’s law department went behind the backs of the defendants and their counsel to secure a stay from Circuit Court Judge Michael Hathaway, sending the jury home indefinitely – a People’s Tribunal has been made necessary.

Since Article IVof  State Consitition: (§ 51 and 52)state that the public health and general welfare of the people of the state are hereby declared to be matters of primary public concern.  And that the conservation and development of the natural resources of the state are hereby declared to be of paramount public concern in the interest of the health, safety and general welfare of the people. The legislature shall provide for the protection of the air, water and other natural resources of the state from pollution, impairment and destruction.

And yet to date no charges have been brought against these two men by either federal or state Attorneys General – rendering a Peoples’ Tribunal necessary.

We will begin with Opening statements, hearing first from the People…

Bill Goodman: Peoples; Opening Statement: Detroit and Flint, Emergency Management, Water and Human Rights, turning water into money resulting in genocide  (10 minutes: 6:30 to 6:40)

Nicholas Klaus: Defense Opening Statement: Heroic and competent defenders of capital, the American way of life and lucrative contracts for well-connected corporate cronies 10 minutes (6:40 to 6:50)

6:50 to 7:30

Witnesses for the People: Valerie Jean (Detroit). Melissa Mays(Flint)
7:30 to 8:00

Witnesses for the Defense and cross
Michael Doan (Duggan) 8 min defense, 6 min cross
Fred Vitale (Snyder) 8 min defense, 6 min cross.

Rebuttal witnesses
Debra Taylor (Detroit)
Narriyah Sharrif (Flint)

8:00 pm

Closing Arguments
Prosecutor 6-8 min
Defense  6—8 min

8:15 Judge…

As to instructions for the Jury…Ordinarily, judges instruct jurors in a way that actually minimizes, constricts, and constrains their awareness of their own power. I will not do so. Juries are inherently a powerful and authoritative form of direct democracy. I will not hide that fact from you.

I will encourage you to discern where lies are being told either openly or through spin doctoring. And I encourage you speak and vote using the full powers of your conscience.

Each of you have 2 minutes to share your position and the reasons for your vote of guilt or innocence. You may further, pending the outcome of the verdict, voice a recommendation for sentence.

Michael Balogun Anderson
Will Copeland
William Davis
Elena Herrada
Teresa Kelly
Claire McClinton
Rudy Simons

Jury speaks one by one (2 min each)
8:15 to 8: 30 


By my tally we have a unanimous verdict of Guilty on all counts.
The Court thanks each of you for your service in this matter.

As to sentencing…

These are serious crimes, violations of democracy and the human right to life itself. All charges which may yet be brought in conventional courts.
I have considered the various penalties which the state itself is able to sanction and enforce:
Imprisonment, being denied the necessities of life, being slowly poisoned with heavy metals, or being forcibly expelled from the region by foreclosure and water shut-off and water poisoning. These I am taking under advisement. But to reiterate, any decision or sentence in the Peoples’ Tribunal does not preclude further charges in other courts.

Mr’s Snyder, Duggan, (Early, and Orr)…you are hereby stripped of your authority to lead or rule the people of Detroit and Michigan. The people are no longer bound to honor you in office. Moreover, you are to be lead in an ignominious spectacle of your failures before the people of Michigan, the people of the nation, and the people of the world. Go. You are no longer over us. Let it be so ordered. Tap gavel.
(The two are led out by the baliffs).

The full implementation of these sentences requires action on the part of the peoples’ movements. I call on Monica Lewis Patrick to lead us in those deliberations.