"Each generation, coming out of obscurity, must define its mission and fulfill or betray it." Frantz Fanon - The Wretched of the Earth”

Jimmy Boggs

 Photo16  James Boggs Web Reader

We Are All Works in Progress*
By Grace Lee Boggs
40th Anniversary Celebration

The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Workerıs Notebook
Detroit, Michigan, June 29, 2003,


Thank you for coming from near and far to add depth and breadth to this celebration. My hope is that you will go away with more questions than answers. The period we are living in is so unprecedented that almost anything, both negative and positive, is possible. So we should be wary of anyone who claims to know what the future will bring. In times like these, the future depends on what we do in the present, as the University of Michigan students, who helped organize yesterdays incredible 88th birthday party for me in Detroits historic Chinatown, put it. read more


By James Boggs Public Speak out, lst Unitarian-Universalist Church

Friday, June 24, l988

Monday night I went to the graduation ceremony for one of my grandsons in Ford auditorium at which Mayor Young was the main speaker. The student who introduced Young said, with a smile, that he was the only Mayor she had ever known. Young then went on to say in the same joking vein that maybe some of the students should come back in ten years and run for Mayor because by then he would probably have retired. Everyone laughed, but it is no joking matter. The sad truth is that His Honor has been Mayor for so long he thinks he owns the town and seems to have forgotten that the people elected him and may one day retire him before his vision of Detroit leads us into even deeper chaos. read more


by James Boggs

"Urban Design and Social Change,"

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor,

Nov-3, 1988. (Thanks to Grace Lee Boggs for transcription)

  • We live in an age of both material and spiritual pollution, exploiting each other and our environment without any thought for future generations.  We bulldoze forests to clear land to raise cattle for McDonald hamburgers, nor- caring, that are depleting the supply of oxygen which our atmosphere requires. We use chemicals which endanger our ground water and our soil. Every six minutes in our country a woman is raped, in one out of four cases by more than one person. Every five minutes someone is shot; every ten minutes someone is killed. In the last few years in Detroit alone at least two people have been killed every day', more often than not by a family member or a friend. The homelessness of hundreds of thousands of Americans has become an international scandal. Yet in Ferndale Michigan, residents near St. Luke's Episcopal Church have sued for an injunction to stop the church from providing shelter for 60-70 homeless people seven days a year. For the last 45 years, while our leaders have been telling us that our enemies were over there, they have actually been increasing over here, among and within ourselves ...
  • Fortunately there are a few people in our country who are beginning to recognize that our country cannot continue on its present course, that we can no longer depend on runaway corporations or on big government for our social and economic well-being, and that somehow must begin to create new economic, social and political ties in our communities in order to gain some control over our lives. Communities have always been and will always be the basis for developing and maintaining human values and building personal character. Those who recognize this are still very few. But all great historical movements were started by a minority. The civil rights movement began in Montgomery, Alabama, with the 1955-56 Bus Boycott. Even capitalism, which was progressive 400 years ago because it offered freedom and independence from the bondage of feudalism, began with a few entrepreneurs.
  • The first question we need to ask is not how many people are beginning to think this way, but what is the good life in this historical period?" If we can explore this question together in a way that makes us more aware that we are human beings with, the unique capacity imagine, to innovate and to cooperate, our discussion tonight can be a step in the direction of making the 21st century a century that will go down in history as one in which humanity took a big leap forward towards becoming more human.
  • JAMES Boggs was born in Marion Junction, Ala.. in 1919.
  • "All of us know of the struggles that have been waged in this century around racism, not only in the United States but all over the world...But as we approach the 21st: century, the issues we face, especially in the United States, are even more complex than those of racism. The struggle of the 21st century is going to be over what will become of our cities."

Beyond Rebellion

By James Boggs

New York Times, Sept. 23, 1972

DETROIT – The black movement has gone through a number of stages in the last 15 years. First, there was the civil rights movement which reached a critical stage with the Birmingham confrontations of 1963, and which finally collapsed with the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. Then, there has been the black power movement which began to rise with Malcolm in 1963-4, and which mushroomed into a national movement following the Watts uprising of 1965 and the Newark and Detroit rebellions of 1967.

Think Dialectically, Not Biologically

 By James Boggs

 Political Science Seminar, Atlanta University, February 17, 1974...

This is the first opportunity I have had to speak to an audience in Atlanta, a city which in the last few years has become the center for many tendencies in intellectual and political thinking by Blacks. Many black groups from all over the country have held conferences here, and in this process you have had an opportunity to evaluate the movement of the black indigenous forces which erupted in the 1960s and within a few years brought this whole country into its present state of social upheaval

The Next Development in Education

By James Boggs University of Adult Education,
Detroit, Michigan, February 28, 1977

I want to thank you for inviting me here to speak to you, especially since I have not come to extol
you for the sacrifices which you are making in thepursuit of knowledge. Actually, I believe that
the way most of you are pursuing knowledge is incorrect because you are pursuing what I call
"received" knowledge. That is, you are trying to absorb information, facts, theories, etc.,
which have already been discovered or created by others, in the belief that if you can just absorb
enough of this knowledge, you will qualify as "educated". This means that you think of education
as a "thing" which is stored up somewhere. All you have to do is open the Pandora's Box, get a
good look at its contents - and presto, you are educated.

front page citizen



This speech was selected, edited, and prepared for publication by Alternatives, Detroit based organization which no longer ists. They wrote the introduction, did most of the basic work involved, and have financed its publication.


This pamphlet was originally a speech given by James Boggs to the graduate class in the School of Architecture at the University of Michigan on November 9, 1976. However, it is of interest to all of us concerned with the rapidly deteriorating quality of life in this country. A few questions can highlight this situation: Why is it that we cannot safely walk the streets at night when we are supposedly the most "civilized" society in the world? Why do we often pay the price of leaving behind old friends and communities in order to advance to the next rung on the ladder of success? And why, in the age of mass media, do we remain ignorant of how the social and political decisions which affect our daily lives are made? read more

Willie Williams

This poem appears in the booklet published for James Boggs Memorial
Celebration in October 1993. Willie Williams is a Detroit poet who
worked closely with Dudley Randall and is associated with Broadside Press.

The Man Who Would Not Be King

He fought the good fight

every day and every night

of his life

He laughed at suited hyenas

hiding behind badges and bushes

and between their laws

The right question asker

in a closed-mouthed society

asking them even of himself

Activating activists

across state lines

across gender lines

across racial lines

across generational lines

even beyond the grave

A hate hater

lending love to the struggle

by example. Just look at him

and Grace. There is hope for us

for the future.


But there is still more to do…

Willie Williams

Please send your speeches photos of Jimmy with date and story behind 

    so we can do a photo archive boggscenter@boggscenter.org


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May 25, 2012