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Activist, Author, Icon Grace Lee Boggs Turns 100 Years Old

by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang /  / Updated 
Grace Lee Boggs is seen during an interview for her PBS documentary, "American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs."
Activist, author, and civil rights icon Grace Lee Boggs celebrates her 100th birthday in June 2015.Quyen Tran / PBS/"American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs"

Social justice activists and supporters are gathering for a week of celebration of the life and legacy of Detroit civil rights icon Grace Lee Boggs, marking her 100th birthday on June 27. Boggs has been referred to as the "Heart and Soul of Detroit's Activist Community" for her seven decades of leadership in labor, civil rights, and Black Power movements.

The festivities will include films, discussions, neighborhood tours, theater, performance, music, and of course, protests. Highlights include a showing of “The Loving Story” about the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v Virginia, a Silence the Violence March, The People’s Festival, and a gala celebration at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

“Grace has been a mentor to many, including myself and the other founders of the James and Grace Lee Boggs School,” Julia Putnam, Principal of The James and Grace Lee Boggs School, told NBC News. “Grace is the first person we heard say that children are often seen as a problem in our society as opposed to people who can help us come up with solutions to our problems. The Boggs School uses a model called place-based education which is learning rooted in the local. We adopted this model because we agree with Grace that we learn from building community and that the learning of children can benefit our communities.”

Related: The Chinese-American Woman Behind the Black Power Movement

For those not able to make it to Detroit, celebration organizers encourage people to honor Boggs by doing “100 minutes plus1 for the future of community building activities.”

“We try to heed Grace's challenge to us,” said Putnam. “She said that we must ‘think beyond what we even believe is possible.’ This call for critical thinking and deep imagination is her legacy to us.”

Grace Lee Boggs is seen during an interview for her PBS documentary, "American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs."
Activist, author, and civil rights icon Grace Lee Boggs celebrates her 100th birthday in June 2015.Quyen Tran / PBS/"American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs"
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