Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015) was an American social activist, author, philosopher, and feminist. Her political involvement encompassed many of the major 20th century U.S. social movements: Labor, Civil Rights, Black Power, Asian American Rights, Women’s Rights, and Environmental Justice. Boggs entered Barnard College on a scholarship to study philosophy and graduated in 1935. She went onto receive her PhD in philosophy from Bryn Mawr College in 1940.
Due to race and gender barriers of the 1940s, Boggs took a low paying job at the University of Chicago Philosophy Library, this was where she first became involved in tenants’ rights and joined leftist political groups. She would spend her lifetime channeling her studies of Marx, Hegel, and Kant into prolific political writing and grassroots social activism, especially in the African American community, ultimately aligning herself with nonviolent strategies. While Boggs and her husband collaborated with many notable activists and figures, including Malcom X, C.L.R. James, and Raya Dunayevskaya, they later split from their contemporaries to focus on their own grassroots efforts in the community. Boggs’ activist manifesto shied away from upheaval and emphasized community organizing and resurgent moral values, which she actively pursued till her death at the age of 100.