Grace Lee Boggs–and “Good” Revolution

Wondering what grace I could possibly find on a heartsickening day when a mob of Americans stormed the Capitol to overthrow a free and fair election, I came upon Grace Lee Boggs.

I’d never heard of her. Daughter of Chinese immigrants, Boggs spent most of her long life (1915-2015) “tackling issues related to labor and civil rights, feminism, Black Power, Asian Americans and the environment,” according to NPR. In the tradition of John Lewis, Boggs and her husband, James, got into “good trouble.”

Unlike the insurrectionists shredding democracy in DC, Boggs was a nonviolent revolutionary. As she told interviewer Michelle Chen of Guernica, “You know, when I first joined the movement, we talked about violence and nonviolence mostly in tactical terms. But over the years as I’ve grown older, I’ve thought more in philosophical terms. Nonviolence is based on recognizing that all of us are human beings. And at a certain point we begin to learn that you don’t gather very much by making enemies out of people and not recognizing their humanity. Nonviolence is essentially based on recognizing the humanity in every one one of us.”

Right now I’m having trouble mustering anything but contempt for President Trump, but many of his supporters are my neighbors. So, I’m going to work on summoning the grace to recognize the pain and frustration in the misguided revolutionaries in Washington.

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