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Living for Change: If Not Now, When?

From the archive...

Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015) argued that 'dreaming' would not be enough. In order to create a more just and peaceful world, people must act. (Photo: Robin Holland)

[Editor's note: The following essay by Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015) was first published by Common Dreams on August 23, 2010. With the passing of Boggs announced on Monday, we share in the mourning of those who knew her best and the untold number of people who were influenced and inspired by her life dedicated to social justice and a better world. Read more of Boggs' writings for CD here and visit the Boggs Center for more information about her extraordinary life and work.]

I won't be marching with Jesse Jackson in the March called by the UAW and the NAACP to commemorate the August 28, 1963 March on Washington.

That's not only because at 95 my marching days are over.

As early as 1963, Malcolm X called the "I Have a Dream" March a "Farce on Washington" because John Lewis had been forced to delete from his speech any references to Revolution and Power by the MOW's "Big 6" organizers: A. Philip Randolph, Dr. King/SCLC, Roy Wilkins/ NAACP, James Farmer/CORE, Whitney Young/Urban League, and John Lewis/SNCC.

Marchers were also instructed to carry only official signs and allowed to sing only one song 'We shall overcome.'

Malcolm never put lipstick on a pig. Malcolm thought outside the box. If he were alive NOW, he would be telling us that we should no longer be marching. We should no longer be protesting. We should no longer be dreaming. We should no longer be encouraging democratic illusions.

... When millions of Americans do not have meaningful work,
... When as a result of our obsession with economic growth, wildfires in Russia burn dangerously close to nuclear plants and millions drown from floods and mudslides in Pakistan, China and Iowa,
... When Congress decides to cut back food stamps for the poor and hungry in order to provide paychecks for public employees because trillions are being thrown away on unwinnable wars in the Middle East and military bases around the world,
... When our cities are dying because corporations are exporting jobs oversea to make bigger profits,
... When our prison population is the highest in the world because our schools structured in the factory age have become pipelines to prison,

It is time to stop dreaming and protesting.

Instead in every community and city we should be discussing how to make the "Radical Revolution of Values" not only against Racism but against Materialism and Militarism that Dr. King called for in his 1967 anti-Vietnam war speech.

King's call for this "Radical Revolution" came only four years after his 1963 "I have a Dream" speech. But in those few years, youth in Watts, California and other cities had risen in Rebellion. In Chicago King and anti-racist marchers had experienced the raw ugliness of Northern racism. The genocidal war in Vietnam had exposed our country as the world's worst purveyor of violence and on the wrong side of the world revolution.

That is why in 1967 King decided that the time had come to warn the American people that unless we make a Radical Revolution in Values, we face spiritual death.

In 2010, 42 years later, we are experiencing massive physical and spiritual death.

Why are we still marching and dreaming?

Why are we not making a "radical revolution in values"?

Why are we still obsessed with economic growth?

Why are we still allowing corporations to deprive us of jobs by replacing human beings on the line with robots and by exporting jobs overseas to make greater profits?

Why are we still accepting the dictatorship of technology and of corporations?

The time has come to

...slow down global warming by building sustainable local economies and by living more simply.

...reject the dictatorship of technology so that it is no longer normal and natural to replace human beings with robots.

...stop corporations from exporting jobs overseas.

...end factory-type schooling and start engaging schoolchildren in local community rebuilding.

Let's start thinking outside the box!

If not now... when?

Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs (1925-2015) was an activist and community organizer for more than 60 years and is the author of the autobiography "Living for Change: An Autobiography" and, with Scott Kurashige, "The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century."

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