Feb. notes #9: A Black Radical’s Notebook ›

Wow! This looks great. I mostly only know about Jimmy Boggs from reading Grace Lee Boggs’s autobiography (which I didn’t finish, but it was great vacation reading on the beach, srsly. I do not rest.). He was a labor organizer in Detroit, and unlike many organizers who come in from outside, as academics or writers but not people whose experiences are those that they’re writing about and making a name for themselves off of, he was just a guy who worked in different factories in Detroit, had lived there forever, and paid attention. And then he started writing revolutionary workers’ rights pamphlets, from a standpoint of writing in a way that was accessible but not patronizing, that was rooted in black industrial workers’ lives there.

Grace Lee Boggs’s autobiography, Living for Change, is amazing by the way, and I am not good at reading biographies. Finishing it is on my long to-do list.

By Paul Abowd

'Grace and Jimmy have said their experiences in struggle taught them that the struggle to create revolutionary change cannot just be for things—for material conditions. People and communities have to be transformed.'

Pages from a Black Radical’s Notebook: A James Boggs Reader is the first volume to compile the writings of tireless Detroit revolutionist James Boggs. The book’s contents comprise half a century of Boggs’ writing and document his evolution as a rank-and-file autoworker, a leader in the civil rights and black power movements, and a visionary thinker about how Detroit’s post-industrial crisis might spark revolution.

Boggs, author of the 1963 book The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook, was married to his collaborator—feminist, activist and author Grace Lee Boggs—for 40 years before his death in 1993. As the matriarch of Detroit’s activist community, she continues their work today at age 95.

In February, I discussed James Boggs’ legacy with University of Michigan Professor Stephen Ward, who edited the compilation.

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