A documentary full of Grace

By Abraham Alapisco Staff Writer

The documentary, American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, was screened April 12 at the University Theatre for students and was followed up with a Q&A forum with the director Grace Lee. The documentary is not about the director. It is about another person named Grace Lee, whom she had met while filming a previous documentary, The Grace Lee Project.

A crowd of about 100 people filled the seats as faculty from the Film and Electronic Arts Department introduced the Peabody Award winning documentary and director before the screening began. 

According to the flyer promotion, the screening is part of a series called Quandaries. The series is supported by The Visiting Fellows Grant funded by the California State University Entertainment Industry, which aims to fund similar award winning documentary screenings and director Q&As.

The documentary focused on the life work of Chinese-American Grace Lee Boggs, a philosopher, social activist, and feminist. She is a Marxist influenced by the ideas of Georg Hegel. 

Boggs became involved with the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement after receiving her PHD. Due to limited opportunities, Boggs took a low paying job at the University of Chicago Philosophy Library, which compelled her participation in tenants’ rights activism and led to future participation with the Workers Party.

Lee married James Boggs, an African-American autoworker and activist. They lived in Detroit, where they became involved with the Correspondence Publishing Committee, which was a radical left organization that James Boggs would eventually become a newspaper editor for. During her time in Detroit, Boggs was part of an ongoing dialogue concerning social justice and revolution. 

“Revolution is evolution towards something grander,” said Boggs. An open exchange of ideas is what Boggs promoted. She believed, “being angry does not constitute revolution,” rather a person willing to see the world for what it is and how he or she can change it for the better is when the system can become susceptible to alterations. 

Following the screening, director Grace Lee shared her expertise and knowledge with students who inquired about the medium of documentary filmmaking and reflected on her time spent with the activist.

“I never would have imagined a Chinese American woman was involved with so many things,” said Lee. 

For Lee, a big challenge was finding archival footage of Boggs at past historical events. Director Lee explained that Boggs never wanted personal attention or recognition for her activism. Boggs wanted the focus to be on the revolution and the community. 

Grace Lee Boggs passed away in October 2015. She was 100 years and 100 days old.


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