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Grace Lee Boggs – a champion for civil rights, labor rights, feminism, and the Black Power movement – has died, the Huffington Post reports.

Boggs was born in 1915 to Chinese immigrants and spent over 70 years fighting for social change. According to family, she died peacefully in her sleep on Monday morning in Detroit. Via a statement from Boggs’ trustees, “Grace died as she lived, surrounded by books, politics, people and ideas.”

President Barack Obama released a statement sending prayers to Boggs’ family, stating that he and First Lady Michelle Obama were saddened by her passing.

From the Huffington Post

“Grace dedicated her life to serving and advocating for the rights of others — from her community activism in Detroit, to her leadership in the civil rights movement, to her ideas that challenged us all to lead meaningful lives,” Obama said in a statement.

Boggs’ mission to improve race relations in American culture began in the 1930s with activist A. Philip Randolph, one of the prominent leaders in the Civil Rights Movement. Boggs found herself on the opposite end of discrimination when she finished grad school. After hearing things such as “We don’t hire Orientals,” she started working with Randolph on championing equal rights for minorities.

NPR reports Boggs had been so dedicated to fighting equality for African-Americans, her FBI files labeled her as “probably Afro Chinese.”

She would later meet her husband and fellow community activist James Boggs in 1953. The couple brought their love for revolution together by releasing Revolution And Evolution In The Twentieth Century in 1998, years after James’ passing. Boggs also released the autobiography Living For Change; and in 2011, she co-wrote The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism For The Twenty-First Century with author Scott Kurashige.

The couple went on to organize the Detroit civic organization Save Our Sons And Daughters (SOSAD), Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Gardening Angels, and Detroit Summer, a collective of youth leaders from all backgrounds.

James Boggs passed away in 1993.

Grace Lee went on to speak about the concept of civil rights and self-awareness well into her nineties. Her view on revolution focused on the act and experience of each individual, unlike the aggressive stereotype of overthrowing the government. She also believed in local change by reaching out to communities first to restore moral values.

The New York Times reports: 

“I think that too much of our emphasis on struggle has simply been in terms of confrontation and not enough recognition of how much spiritual and moral force is involved in the people who are struggling,” Ms. Boggs told Bill Moyers in a PBS interview in 2007. “We have not emphasized sufficiently the cultural revolution that we have to make among ourselves in order to force the government to do differently.”

Activists and writers took to Twitter to honor Boggs on Monday.

Boggs was 100 years old.

SOURCE: Huffington Post | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter


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