TRANSCRIPT: Grace Lee Boggs at The New School, April 22, 2012

The following is the transcript from the recent event with Grace Lee Boggs at The New School in Tishman Auditorium. The event also included Melina Pelaez, New School student and faculty member Bill Gaskins.

Jesse Villalobos: Welcome to the New School, everyone! Thanks for coming out on such a cold, rainy day.


We’re glad you joined us. Obviously, today is an important day for us. We have the honor of having Grace Lee Boggs with us.


Let me say, my name is Jesse Villalobos, and I work with social initiatives here. We work with faculty to bring more equity to the curriculum. We work with students to support their organizing, and work to bring more diversity to the institution.


Let me acknowledge the Social Justice committee, and the Student Senate, whose support of this weekend of events has been instrumental.


Yesterday, Grace spent the day with about 30 students from the New School in workshops. I’m sure we’ll hear all about it.


Now I introduce our University President, David Van Zandt.




David Van Zandt: Thank you, Jesse. Welcome everyone! And thanks to Jesse, and kudos to the Social Justice committee.


It’s an honor to have a conversation tonight with Grace Lee Boggs, an extraordinary woman whose commitment to civic engagement is truly inspiring.


She has been working for change for over 70 years. Educated at Barnard and Bryn Mawr, she received her PhD in 1940. She was engaged with the Black Power and other movements, with her husband James Boggs.


For her sustained commitment to social justice causes, she has been honored by the Anti-Defamation League, the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, and the Association of Asian-American Studies, among others. She was named Michiganian of the year, and has earned a place in the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.


She continues to write, speak, and lead. At this point in her life, when many of us would begin to think the status quo is okay, she remains committed to change.


I have read her book. I encourage every student and everyone else to read it. Grace Lee Boggs’ life and work reflects so much of what the New School is about: problem-solving, improving lives and communities, taking risks, and a commitment to lifelong learning.


Many students come here to be part of a community that upholds these values. We have activism at our roots. Whether the issue is lobbying, working to improve pay for research assistants, or supporting movements on campus or the Occupy Movement, students get involved with social change.


I am proud of being president of a school where students are not interested in the status quo, and are not shy about emailing their president about it! I know Grace Lee Boggs met with several of our students yesterday, and I am sure we are delighted to broaden that conversation this evening.


It also gives me pleasure to welcome Kathy Engel, who will get the discussion underway. She is a poet, activist and teacher. She has worked for 30 years. She is a founder of MADRE, as well as the Hayground School in Bridgehampton. Her most recent books are Ruth’s Skirts and a book of poems from Palestine and Lebanon. She teaches at Tisch School for the Arts. We are pleased to have her host today. Kathy?




Kathy Engel: Good evening! How you all doing? How are you doing???


Audience: Great!


Kathy Engel: Thank you, President Van Zandt, and all of you who made this evening possible. I’m proud to be here on Earth Day of 2012. When I come into this hall, which emanates with important history, I think of my friend, the late poet and visionary Sekou Sundiata, the first poet in residence at the New School.


In creating The 51st Dream State, he engaged in conversation across the country with students and leaders and we gather tonight in kinship with his spirit, which is like that of Grace Lee Boggs. We explore the growing of our souls, the building of community, and the poetry in our lives that lead us to something called (R)evolution, evolution, with an R, in front of it.


I’ve been trying to figure out how to say that. [Joke/joking.]


We gather for an historic inter-generational conversation. I’d like to introduce the participants. After seven years in her parents’ country of origin, Bolivia, Melina Pelaez came back to the U.S. to attend college and be an anti-war activist, and a founder of the New Students Chapter of Democratic Society.


Before graduate study, she wanted experience in the field. She worked in a union organizing campaign in Colorado. Ms. Pelaez works in the New School Social Justice Initiative. Currently a student organizer, while finishing her last semester in the MA program, she has been active in the Occupy movement.


When I sat with Melina — forgive me, I say this with love. I sat with her a few weeks ago. We talked about this evening and her participation. She raised this question: Why me?


That’s stuck with me more than anything else. Perhaps it’s that humility, that grace, and sensitivity to all participants who make a community, that answers her question.


Bill Gaskins, my friend, mentor, teaches here at the New School and at the Parsons School of Design. You all know that. He was honored with a distinguished professor award in 2011. He brings the focus of context and history with elementary students and college students. He visited a Master class I lead at NYU, challenging us all to see that no image lives outside the context of a social history.


His book, Good and Bad Hair, was groundbreaking in the world of hairstyling in African American cultures. His quote: true poverty is being too poor to pay attention.


It tells you what you need to know about him. Bill’s determination to bring us here tonight is to collectively take inventory of the years since Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech, “Where Do We Go From Here? ” He uses that challenge to help us move forward. He will guide our conversation this evening.


When I met Grace Lee Boggs in person, it was long after I had met her ideas and inspiration. It was at “The State of the Possible,” in 2002. After spending time with her then, for several days, whenever I met somebody after that — generally a young person either from Detroit or not — I always said, “There’s somebody in Detroit you have to meet!”


They would usually turn and smirk, and say simply, “Grace is my mentor.”


That tells you something about Grace Lee Boggs. Grace doesn’t simply listen. She leans, gleans, and transforms the space between speaker and listener to a new understanding. She creates possibility. She asks us to live inside the question as a way of being together. That, I believe, is at the core of the next American Revolution that she invites us to.


She writes, “The social activists among us struggle … to build community … because community is the most important thing that has been destroyed by the dominant culture.” She talks about growing our souls while we grow the food we eat — wherever we are, whoever we are.


She says, what we urgently need are impassioned discussions everywhere, with people from all walks of life not only talking, but listening. That is the best way to begin creating and understanding the next American Revolution.


I heard an interview with her and Bill Moyers. I don’t know if you heard it. After she explained the business of building community through discussion, he said, this is really big, what you’re talking about.


How do you do it? Where do you begin? Without skipping a beat, Grace said, “Just like this, Bill. Just like this.” That’s what we’re going to do tonight.


Grace and I share a love for poetry. After we met, I received a package from her in the mail. It had a big colorful button with handwriting that could have been a child’s. It said “Poet,” about this big. The poet Adrienne Rich, whom we lost recently, said the only real poem is the moment of change.


This, dear sisters and brothers, is the moment of change, the impassioned discussion. Please give your most soul growing welcome to Melina, Bill, and philosopher, activist, visionary, organizer, mentor, Grace Lee Boggs.




Bill Gaskins: First, thank you all so very much for braving the weather and fitting this gathering into your to-want list today; not your to-do list but your to-want list. I want to echo my gratitude to everyone who has played a role in making today happen. One of those people is on the stage next to me.


We are here because we are living in the midst of an unprecedented cocktail of greed, insecurity, etc. It describes the time we are living in and threatens the planet. It is also the inspiration for the protest action called Occupy Wall Street here in New York and the Occupy movement around the world.


But because most protest actions are commonly followed by fatigue and frustration on the part of the protesters on one side of the police barriers and resolve and resistance on the part of the corporate players on the other side, it has led those people on the front line to ask the question: Where do we go from here?


We are here tonight in service of people on both sides of the police barrier — the protesters and the preachers, the police, the presidents and provosts — in the hopes that we all can re-imagine our response to the question that Dr. Martin Luther King raised in 1967, Where do we go from here? We hope to do that in a way that challenges all of our conventions.


The more I listen to the speech, the more I have to reckon with the fact that there are many parallel things in 1967 with 2012. We are going to have our conversation driven by a playback of edited excerpts from the recording of King’s speech.


We will focus on power, poverty, confrontation, transformation and, finally, love. We will ask that we dispense with the traditional question-and-answer period at the conclusion of our conversation and have that replaced with an answer period.


We would like you to answer the question: “Where do I go from here?” starting on April 23rd, 2012. There are microphones on either side of the house. We want no more than a sentence. It can be a simple or compound sentence.


We want to know how you will transform yourselves. Do we all understand? We want to start with a question I have to both Grace and Melina around the issue of sacrifice.


What are the 99% most unwilling to give up? And what are the so-called 1% most unwilling to give up? And how is this getting in the way of the next American revolution?


Grace Lee Boggs: Let me start by saying thank you. Thanks to New School and all of you here. I am a very old woman. I am very hard of hearing, which is why I look at this computer here.


I was born two years before the Russian revolution. I am still around in the 21st century. I believe the next American revolution has already started. It will be a very, very different revolution from the Russian revolution. And we are going to think of power in a very different way.


We are going to think of power less in terms of state power and more in terms of the power that we have within ourselves to change ourselves and change the world. We are in an extraordinary time in the history of humanity.


I believe that we have the opportunity and are in the midst of a cultural revolution that is as far reaching as the transformation from hunting and gathering to agriculture 11,000 years ago. And then from agriculture to capitalism and industry a few hundred years ago.


That is an enormous change. It won’t take place overnight. It won’t take place by begging the president to change. It is already underway. People are already exercising the power within themselves to change the world.


It is happening a lot in Detroit. I think it is beginning to happen here in New York. I used to live in New York. I watch what is going on in the street. I see the diversity here. I see how people are not so much “othering” themselves and each other as they did in the past. I am much encouraged.


I think we need to go forth from this conversation tonight not with the idea that we are going to change the world but that the world is changing and we need to be a part of that change. How do we become a part of that? That is the question I would like us to think about.


Melina Pelaez: First, I am very excited to be inspired and challenged by Grace Lee Boggs. Hopefully I will be able to challenge her a little bit, too. That would be nice.


Thinking about the next American revolution, as Grace explains in her book, what made me understand that is a quote: “As Americans, we need to learn how to live more simply so the rest of the world can simply live.”


Thinking of what I understood as the concept of the American revolution, it is changing from past experiences of American consciousness around social justice. It is acknowledging its role in the world. It is taking us as a society and changing our values. Currently, our values are promoting materialism and dependency structures and inequality in the world.


In answering the question about what the 99% needs to give up, it is now focusing on movements around the state and it needs to focus around empowerment and community building. There is an element of responsibility involved as we think about change and politics in general. I don’t know what the 1% would want to give up, honestly.


Bill Gaskins: What they are afraid to give up.


Let’s begin talking about power. Please play the first clip.


[Begin audio recording.]


Martin Luther King, Jr.: Another basic challenge is to discover how to organize our strength and economic and political power. Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve progress. It is the strength required to bring about social, political, and economic change.


Walter Reuther defined power one day. He said power is the ability of a labor union like UAW make General Motors say yes when it wants to say no. That is power.




There is nothing wrong with power if power is used correctly. You see, what happened is that some of our philosophers got off base. One of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites, polar opposites.


Love is identified with a resignation of power. And power is a denial of love. This misinterpretation caused Nietzsche to reject the Christian concept of love. It was the same misinterpretation which induced Christian theologians to reject that notion in the name of ideal Christian love.


We need to get this right. We need to realize that power without love is reckless and abusive. Love without power is sentimental and anemic, power at its best.




Power at its best is love, implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love. This is what we must see. It is precisely this collision of immoral power with powerless morality which constitutes the major crises of our time.


[End audio recording.]


Bill Gaskins: I don’t know if you noticed. Grace started moving. Go at it, Grace.


Grace Lee Boggs: I wish that Martin were still alive today and could witness what is taking place in Detroit. He refers to Walter Reuther and the power of the union. A couple weekends ago, we had an International Women’s Day celebration in Detroit. It was led by the women of the UAW, creating connections with the people of the community and creating caring communities.


That is what I mean by the next American revolution being underway. What the lack of jobs, the globalization of labor, and the weaknesses that have been created in the union as a result of a new stage of production has given the unions or some people in the union the challenge of reaching out to the community and thinking more in terms of the kind of work that women do in caring and not counting the hours and not worrying about getting paid for them.


That is contrasted with labor, which is pay as you will or you fight for the pay to compensate for doing work that is perilous. And you are attached to a machine.


We have to think about power and love very differently. We have to think about how we relate to one another and how we begin to get away from taking the jobs and labor as the answer and beginning to understand that caring communities, caring for one another, and a whole new concept of work that is based much more on what women do as the future.


Bill Gaskins: Could you say more about the distinction between work and jobs?


Grace Lee Boggs: We had a gathering in Detroit last October re-imagining work. You can find an article about it on the Boggs Center website, The concept of labor is only a few hundred years old.


For most of human society, people did not work for wages. They did not count the hours they spent at work. How we thought was not in terms of money and jobs and how we get compensated for doing things we hate doing.


People thought more in terms of community. Our values came from the community. We need that historical reference now as we move into the next period. That is the kind of change we’re undergoing. We are moving from labor and jobs to work that we do for each other and because we care about ourselves and our communities.


Martin didn’t know that. I don’t blame him for not knowing that. But we have to know that as we live in the 21st century.


Bill Gaskins: And you’re here to tell us that.


Grace Lee Boggs: And I’m here to tell you because I’m real old.


Melina Pelaez: Before this excerpt we heard in the speech, Martin Luther King talks about powerful confrontations between side of society that wants to change and the other side that wants to maintain the status quo.


Thinking about this, when I think of power and thinking of control, on the one hand, seeing the real ways that society is controlled by the state or corporations or institutions.


For example, we think of control as far as the people. For me that means empowerment. That is an element of power as far as wanting to have control over our lives or the decisions that affect our lives as people in these societies.


In that sense, I mean, we hear all the time “power of the people.” But on my paper, I put “Egypt, Greece, Spain, Argentina” as clear moments of what that exactly means.


The question I have when we think about empowerment as people is, “Is it about the process of building that community? These relationships on love, will they get developed?” My friend thinks of his country, Greece. Or is it about moments of crisis when your life is at stake when people come out?


Another example is Bolivia, where my parents are from. They were going to privatize water. That’s so essential! People fought for that. They kicked out the transnational corporation. For me that was very inspiring.


Power, I think of control from the state, or as a way to control your own life.


Grace Lee Boggs: It’s really fascinating that you use the word “empowerment.” It comes very natural to you. It’s not a word that existed during the time King was alive. It’s only in the last few years people have been talking about “empowerment.” That’s part of the revolution that’s changing place now. We’re changing our words.


To think about empowerment, you have to begin making that polarization between power and love that King was making. We can exasperate power. Power is what we need. We need the opportunity to implement and practice our full humanity.


Bill Gaskins: For those who haven’t read the book The Next American Revolution, Grace talks about the ways in which the Montgomery Bus Boycott represented a two-sided transformation. That was expressed by the fact that, not only were demands made on the bus system to de-segregate, but they placed demands on themselves too. They demanded themselves to correct or erect an alternative to riding a de-segregated bus. That was by their feet.


A very important part of that was strategy. That goes into the issue of confrontation. So let’s hear the clip from the speech about that


[Begin audio recording.]


Martin Luther King, Jr.: We want to ask what acts would be effective. The answers are blatantly illogical. Sometimes they talk about overthrowing state and local governments. They talk about guerilla warfare. They fail to see that overthrow by violence fails, unless it’s already lost the allegiance of its armed forces.


Anyone in his right mind knows this will not happen in the United States. Furthermore, if any violent revolutions have been successful — unless the violent minority had the sympathy of the non-resistant majority — this is no time for romantic illusions and empty debates about freedom. This is a time for action.


What is needed is a strategy for change. A tactical program that will bring the Negro into the mainstream of American life as quickly as possible. So far, this has only been authored by the non-violent movement. Without recognizing this, we will get answers that don’t answer, and explanations that don’t explain.




I’m concerned about justice, brotherhood, and truth. When one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. Through violence you can murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. You make murder a liar. But you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may hate others, but you can’t murder hate through violence.


Darkness cannot cut out darkness. Only light can do that.




[End of audio recording.]


Grace Lee Boggs: Do I get to speak?


[People laughing.]


I don’t like the way he poses that.


Bill Gaskins: Tell us how you really feel. [Laughing.]


Grace Lee Boggs: It’s taken me a lot of time to appreciate what non-violence meant in King’s strategy. I didn’t go with “thinking only in tactical terms.” Over the years, though, I’ve appreciated him more.


I believe what he was affirming was a belief in the humanity of everyone. That in everyone, even those whom you are confronting and struggling with, there is a humanity that needs to be acknowledged and nurtured. For your own humanity.


I didn’t understand that for years. But I think that is the secret of non-violence. It’s not just a tactic. It expresses a philosophy that was very important to our understanding of the kind of transformation we are now undergoing. If we understand clearly how profound that is, we will be amazed how many human beings will respond. We will not be as divisive in terms of polarization as we have been.


Bill Gaskins: Do you have an example of that, post your transformation of understanding what he meant?


Grace Lee Boggs: This afternoon, I was at a workshop at the Foundry at the Cooper Union. Nelson Johnson and Joyce Johnson, from Greensboro, North Carolina, were there. The fruits of their conciliation process.


Nelson spoke. In 1979, the Ku Klux Klan came and murdered 5 people and wounded Nelson. He had to decide what to do. Were they just going to condemn the Klan? Were they just going to see them as the enemy? Or was there some new way for the community to face itself and understand the origins of the Klan and also, give them a chance to redeem themselves?


So Nelson undertook the extraordinary perils, the risky mission of meeting the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. And eventually he recognized how he had been wrong.


The city of Greensboro is a much better city for that reason. I think, to understand something like that — the risks you have to take, the way you have to overcome your own fears, your own hesitations, and become a fuller human being — is in order to help others be human beings. It’s part of what the next American revolution is about.


Bill Gaskins: So, what does that mean to you, hearing philosophy? Because you know, on the other side of those police barriers are the police! With truncheons. And dirty looks.


Melina Pelaez: Yes. First I’m thinking of violence not so much as a tactic or strategy, but reflecting on it overall, I keep the reality of inequality side by side when I think of violence. I think of how these two are connected.


I see the different levels of violence that exist as well. Historically, we see it with colonialism, imperialism, and in our society. Violence against individuals, minorities, etc. exist.


For me it’s a bit complicated as far as making a statement about non-violence. I’m not a supporter of anti-life violence. But I feel that it’s very complicated. Talking with friends, there’s a feeling that, if you take a stance of non-violence, we still live in a very violent society.


If you stand on the side when all these injustices are happening, in a way, we were reflecting that if you maintain impartiality, that’s a luxury. You’re not making a stand of, “I will be on the side of the oppressed as long as this situation changes.” It’s very complicated for me of thinking of violence on these levels.


Bill Gaskins: As a northerner, I know, watching those newsreels of people being beaten and hosed with high-power water hoses, there was no way I would’ve been in that target.


But again, I wasn’t in that context. I think it’s really important to appreciate the level of courage it took those people. They were in the midst of American apartheid. That’s their lens. Their lens. And to stand up to it all.


But part of what has generated this protest action that has been called a “movement”–which to many people is a misnomer–the Occupy Movement has faced the issue of poverty. It’s the extreme disparity between the Haves and the Have Too Much.


Let us hear a clip about poverty.


[Begin audio recording.]


Martin Luther King, Jr: … And we must develop progress, a program — I can’t stay on this long — that will drive a nation to a guaranteed annual income.


The poor are less often dismissed today, by being branded as inferior as being incompetent. We also know that, no matter how dynamically the economy develops and expands, it does not eliminate all poverty.


The problem indicates that our emphasis must be twofold. We must create employment or incomes. Our country can do this. John Galbraith said a guaranteed annual income could be done for about 20 billion dollars a year.


I say to you today, that if our nation can spend 35 billion dollars a year to fight an unjust, evil war in Vietnam and 20 billion dollars to put a man on the moon, it can spend billions putting God’s children on their own two feet right here on earth!




[End of audio recording]


Grace Lee Boggs: Well I certainly agree. If billions are lost, we should be spending billions on the people. But I’m not sure I’m ready to propose a guaranteed annual wage. I think that’s too simplistic.


Bill Gaskins: Because?


Grace Lee Boggs: I think we need to do a lot more with ourselves, with our economy, and envisioning a new kind of economy.


You can think so much in terms of re-distribution. Or you can begin thinking about justice in terms of restoring another way of life. I find that too simplistic for this time.


Bill Gaskins: Would that include the elimination of the guaranteed incomes that are afforded to people in the corporate sector, through taxes or otherwise?


Grace Lee Boggs: We have a thing called the Riverside East Congressional Initiatives. It’s a group of churches who have decided to begin providing social resources within the community. They’re thinking in terms of helping one another and creating community, before making a demand on the government. That’s why I call it too simplistic.


We have so much to do. We can show that we care for each other.


Melina Pelaez: Thinking about inequality, which I mentioned earlier, and thinking about the OWS as far as, “it’s not being based on demands.”


How the movement is, it’s moving forward. I’m thinking of an article by Judith Butler. She explains the “no demands.” The political point of the movement is to bring attention to how these inequalities are created and sustains. It points to Wall Street and connects that to the government on one hand.


In that sense it’s complicated in terms of demands. You can only address them one by one, rather than show how they’re related to one another.


For example, I’m thinking of something from your book, and how we need to change when addressing these issues. It’s not necessarily just getting stuck on pointing out the oppression or poverty. It’s about thinking of ways how the poor are organizing themselves, as a way of empowerment.


Obviously it’s more complicated. Poverty is very real. There’s many players in it, as far as the state, for example.


For me, poverty goes hand in hand with dependency too. I’m thinking of Bolivia. It deals with development and poverty.


Bill Gaskins: How does Bolivia deal with that?


Melina Pelaez: For many years, it has been known as neo-liberalism and the World Bank and the IMF providing loans to Bolivia and other countries. Supposedly it’s to relieve its problems. But it just creates more dependency on corporations and the U.S.


In that sense, dependency is still there. How do we ask for the state to provide the services one needs, into how is a community supposed to go about addressing the urgent needs that are not being met? By other institutions.


Bill Gaskins: How would either of you address the inequity of the tax code? The code that essentially provides a guaranteed income for certain corporate entities in the United States of America? That’s a question maybe for the more sophisticated of us, who are aware of these imbalances. They enable somebody to just wake up in the morning and make millions! How does that get reconciled? I know it’s complicated.


At what point in the conversations with your colleagues does “doing more than solving the problem” lead to talking about planning and constructing a solution to what we pointed out?


Grace Lee Boggs: The amount of emphasis being put on taxes by both Obama and Republicans seems to be invading the profundity of the situation we face. How are we going to re-imagine how we live together? How are we going to re-imagine how we feed ourselves? How are we going to re-imagine the safety of our streets? How are we going to re-imagine the education for our children?


All of these questions have to be asked of ourselves before we depend on the government to solve them. I think of the situation in relation to neo-liberalism and Latin America is that you are insisting that things are not done by the state and things must be privatized. That is not the situation here in the United States.


We have to talk about what to do here and not so much what we have to do there but what we should NOT do there.


Bill Gaskins: If you don’t have an answer, that’s fine.


Melina Pelaez: A memory came to my mind when we spoke of inequality. During one of the evictions at Zuccotti Park, they were pushing us out. We decided to take a cab to meet another march. We walked three blocks. The cab that stopped had a man working on Wall Street got out. He was upset because he had to walk three or four blocks. He was inconvenienced.


My friend and I said this protest is to address many things in society. He brushed us off and said, “It doesn’t matter to me because I make $2,000 a day.” And he was okay with that. In that sense, how does our society prioritize or change what we value in our lives?


Bill Gaskins: I’m glad you brought that up. It is simply not about taxes enabling this kind of income disparity. It is the fact that you have a system of trading that enables people to have disproportionate advantages through insider trading. There are laws that govern that as well.


But King talked about imagining something else as well. That is your issue of transformation through this speech. Can we hear the clip on transformation, please?


[Begin audio recording.]


Martin Luther King, Jr.: I want to say as I talk about where we go from here, we must honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society.


There are 40 million poor people here. Why are there 40 million poor people in America? When you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth.


When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. I am simply saying that, more and more, we have to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s marketplace.


One day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. That means questions must be raised.


You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question: Who owns the oil? Who owns the iron ore? Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is 2‚ÅÑ3 water?


These are words that must be said. I don’t think you have me in a bind today. I am not talking about communism. I am talking about something far beyond communism. My inspiration didn’t come from Karl Marx. My inspiration didn’t come from any of those.


My inspiration didn’t come from Trotsky or Lenin. Yes, I read Communist Manifesto a long time ago. I saw that maybe Marx didn’t follow Hegel enough. He took his dialectics but left out his idealism and spiritualism. He went to a German philosopher named Feuerbach and made a system of dialectical materialism. I have to reject that.


This morning I have to say that communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social. The kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in communism nor capitalism but in a higher synthesis.




It is found in the higher synthesis that combines the truths of both. When I talk about questioning the whole society it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, economic exploitation, etc., are all tied together. These are all interrelated.


[End of audio recording.]


Grace Lee Boggs: I think what is left out of that is the thing that King said we have to move from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. People get so happy when he says he is against capitalism.


I have been against capitalism for a long time. But in the 21st century, we need to think about a person-oriented society and building community. Why don’t we do that more?


Bill Gaskins: What would that look like?


Grace Lee Boggs: Let me talk about Detroit. Most parts of the country have not faced the devastation we faced in Detroit. I came to Detroit in 1953. The plant where my husband worked employed 17,000 workers. Within a few years, it employed 2,000 workers.


People were prospering in 1953. But by 1954 and 1955, we had abandoned houses and vacant lots full of rubber tires, dead cats, and old mattresses. How do you look at that vacant lot? Is it blight? Or is that vacant lot possibility?


Do you see in that vacant lot the possibility of growing food for our community? Do you see the possibility of changing the minds of our children who were raised in cities to believe that change takes place by pushing a button? Do you see the promise and disaster and catastrophe to change the world if we look at things differently or have a different philosophy?


King didn’t see the devastation that we are living in now. But I can expect us to see this and think differently. We need to think more in terms of the power within us to change the world and change everything.


Melina Pelaez: I also thought of the opportunities or urgency to start either creating new institutions or building the ones into better aspects.


For example, when OWS started to build, what most struck me were these little spaces that represented things that we don’t have in this society that we need. There was the free kitchen. They started free universities. The general assemblies had a free medic space.


My reflections with occupation is around a lot of students from the last occupation and reflecting. The most important thing that came from these occupations is looking at the urgent needs our society has and creating a space based on those needs. It could be around medical needs, education, or even space to relate to each other.


In this way, this movement is showing alternatives on the one hand. It is also bringing attention to what communities can do in their neighborhoods and starting from there.


Bill Gaskins: How would you evaluate the state of that alternative and its impact around the country? Or at least in New York?


Melina Pelaez: That is not a new strategy in the states, this idea of occupation. We have seen it historically. We also have examples from other countries.


I remember a quote from Angela Davis, from your interview I read recently. It was saying that revolution won’t happen in one day or a year. But these moments we do have as an example bring the revolutionary hope that could potentially happen in these spaces.


In that sense, that was a window of the possibilities that could come in the future when people act in a certain way together.


Bill Gaskins: What is that certain way? What does transformation look like to you?


Melina Pelaez: For example, in this specific society, we are very consumerist and materialistic. We need to start thinking collectivity. A clear example is with the New School occupation I was in. Someone pointed out that this space is mostly dominantly by white males.


I pointed out that I was here, too, and I am not a white male. I am very involved. They said I was playing a secondary role and brushed me off. For me, this represented an example of how we think about relationships.


For me, in that space, it wasn’t about thinking about the front role and then a secondary role. It was more about thinking of the needs of the space and using our skills and personalities in the space. That was an example of how my mindset was about what does this space need as far as representing the collective in that space? That is a specific change of how we can move away individual needs and moving to being a part of a community in a space.


Bill Gaskins: Who had your back at that moment when somebody declared you as playing a secondary role?


Melina Pelaez: These ways of thinking is that people either see what they want to see, or they focus on a certain aspect. That is a problem. I don’t deny there are a lot of aspects going around. But as far as my experience, I was looking at it from a different angle.


Bill Gaskins: What was your response besides “I am not playing a secondary role”?


Melina Pelaez: I felt like the people supposedly at the “front” were there because that was the best place for them as far as what they wanted to contribute and what different people wanted in that space. A friend of mine overheard that.


My friend said that I was always part of making different decisions.


Bill Gaskins: Grace, what was your transformation from protest politics to what you are most known for?


Grace Lee Boggs: There are many occasions in my life when I began to make this transition. The most important one was about 40 years ago when we elected a black mayor. The rebellions of the 1960s had made it clear that a white mayor could no longer maintain law and order.


This black mayor came in. He was Coleman Young. He was very smart, but he could not solve the problems of society. In order to make jobs, he said we needed to bring in a casino industry and that would bring 50,000 jobs.


We opposed Young. We said we had to create an alternative to rebuild Detroit. That forced us to think about how to build alternatives. We decided to create a program called Detroit Summer, which involved young people in rebuilding, re-spiriting, and re-defining Detroit from the ground up.


That brought the elders, who had been working on community gardens, to work with the young people. It connected the young people to the earth. That started an urban agricultural movement which has blossomed into over 1,000 community gardens. We have the idea that we can feed ourselves locally, and we don’t have to depend on industrial agriculture.


That is the kind of struggle that has helped me think in terms of visionary organizing. If we look at each crisis not only as a danger but as an opportunity to make a whole new advance in human evolution and to see the revolution as evolution, that we are on a constant mission as human beings to expand our humanity. We need to become more human, more self-reliant, and more productive.


That is a philosophical view that I think Martin had to some degree. But he didn’t live as long as I did. He didn’t live to see what was happening in the 21st century. And he didn’t have the kind of experience and actual organizing that we need.


Bill Gaskins: Okay. Biggest myth or myths about Detroit. Biggest myths about Occupy. Why don’t you start, Melina? What are some of the biggest myths about Occupy?


Grace Lee Boggs: By the way, I think it is unfair to give Occupy the responsibility for coming up with all of these ideas when it is such a young movement.


Bill Gaskins: I agree. There are myths about Occupy that determine how it is perceived and misunderstood. There are also myths about Detroit that determine the way it is understood and misunderstood.


Grace Lee Boggs: I have sent a message to the Occupy movement.


Actually, to the facility of the Occupy movement in Detroit, in its compound. I believe the challenge to the Occupy movement — which has done enormous things to open a new conversation — is to do a lot of re-imagining.


Re-imagine. You have a lot of thinking to do. I think we underestimate the role of thought in revolution. There is a role for imagination. I quote Einstein often: The splitting of the atom has changed everything but the human mind, and thus we drift toward catastrophe. Imagination is more important than education.


I’ve never forgotten that. I think the opportunity for Occupy movement people to begin re-imagining everything — education, work, healthcare, and all these issues — is before us. You don’t get the revolution overnight. But you have to begin thinking much more long-term.


Bill Gaskins: Because there are many people here who aren’t Detroiters, and you are the ground zero for change in that city, what are the myths that people have about Detroit they need to get past?


Grace Lee Boggs: All you see from main line reporters is devastation. You don’t see that devastation also brings people to the road where they either give up hope completely, or begin doing something different.


Detroit is at that turning point. It has been at that turning point for quite a while. If you look at an empty lot, and all you can see are old tires and dead cats and mattresses, you think one way. If you see that lot as an opportunity to grow food for your community, and to help young people think differently about change, you do something different.


That choice is always in front of us. You either give up, or begin becoming more human. Unfortunately it’s happened in Detroit. It’s happened to me. That’s what it means to be human. You can become a victim. Or you can overcome.


Melina Pelaez: Yesterday I went to a student panel discussion about the occupation. The reason I bring this up is so I can speak more honestly from my experience.


It was kind of reflecting a certain thinking about one incident, as something historical or extraordinary.


In that sense, I don’t know. To look at what’s going on around Occupy Wall Street as something not so revolutionary, but as a moment of bringing attention to where we are, is something in progress. We are being critical of it. We’re seeing where we can grow and learn from that, and continue to work. There’s a lot of work.


The reason I stutter now is when I say “movement.” That’s my point. Not referring to OWS as something static like a movement, is important. Again, it’s about creating a space where we can try something and see if it works. If it doesn’t, maybe we can try something else.


In that sense, it’s nothing definite. As far as politics and protests go, I think we’re still in our baby steps in the U.S. In that sense there’s a lot of work to do. [Laughing.]


Bill Gaskins: As it is for all.


Melina Pelaez: For everyone, yes.


Bill Gaskins: Love. What does love have to do with all of this? I want to play this. Can you play the clip?


[Begin audio recording.]


Martin Luther King, Jr.: I’ve also decided to stick with love. But I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems. I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles.


I’m not talking about emotional love. I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. I have seen too much hate. I have seen too much hate on the faces of sheriffs in the South. I have seen it on too many white citizens and councilmen in the South. They hate me. Every time I see it, it does something to their faces and their personality.


Hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love.




If you’re seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And so I say to you today, my friends, that you may be able to speak with the tongues of men and angels, you may have the eloquence of articulate speech. But if you have not love, it means nothing.


Yes. You may have the gift of prophecy. You may have the gift of scientific prediction. And you may understand the behavior of molecules. You may break into the storehouse of nature and bring forth many new insights. Yes.


You may ascend to the heights of academic achievement, so that you have all knowledge. You may boast of your great institutions of learning and the extent of your degrees. But if you have not love, all of these mean absolutely nothing!


You may have the goods to feed the poor. You may bestow good gifts to charity. You may power high in philanthropy. But if you have not love, your charity means nothing.


You may even give your body to be burned. Your blood may be a symbol, for generations yet unborn. Thousands may praise you as a hero. But if you have not love, your blood was spilt in vain.


I’m trying to get you to see this morning, that a man may be centered in his self-denial and self-sacrifice. His generosity may feed his ego. His piety may feed his pride. Without love, charity becomes egotism. Martyrdom becomes spiritual pride.


[End of audio recording.]


Grace Lee Boggs: As I read King, he said there were different forms of love. There was eros, there was philia, and then there was agape. By agape he means you are willing to go to any risk to restore community.


I like the concept of agape best. I can’t preach the way he does the way about love. He’s such a preacher. But I know that the concept of agape, and the willingness of any of us to restore community, is where we have to go. Otherwise we have chaos.


Bill Gaskins: Which love do you practice?


Grace Lee Boggs: The agape!


[Crowd laughing.]




Melina Pelaez: For me too. I’m thinking of love in this context and conversation. I go to social relationships we have. I’m thinking of how love is very important in these relationships.


From personal relationships, it also moves from friends, families and partners, to thinking of community. It’s about how it can be translated into my organizing or my actions. These relationships are based on solidarity, trust, and respect.


There’s elements of responsibility too, that come with social relationships. For me, thinking about love is thinking how all these elements play out in these relationships.


I’m being very critical of what solidarity means. What does it mean to have someone’s back? This can only be developed through a relationship. That takes time, and a lot of work.


In that sense, that’s also how I imagine community-building happens.


Bill Gaskins: Well, what the two of you have in common is from when I met both of you. When I met you, there was an immediate recognition of something very familiar. Melina, when you asked me why you were asked to participate in this event, it was clear to me. Kathy pointed it out. The question is really “why?” just as it is with Grace.


Here’s what I’d like to do with our remaining time. We’ll play a little bit of the conclusion of the speech. Then we’ll give you all time to take the microphone and answer the question: Where do I go from here?


[Begin audio recording.]


Martin Luther King, Jr.: If you will let me be a preacher just a little bit —




One day, one night, a juror came to Jesus. He wanted to know what he could do, to be saved. Jesus didn’t get bogged down on the kind of isolated approach of what you shouldn’t do.


Jesus didn’t say, Nicodemus, you must stop lying. He didn’t say, Nicodemus, you must not commit adultery. He didn’t say, Nicodemus, you must stop cheating.


He didn’t say, Nicodemus, stop drinking liquor if you’re doing that incessantly. He said something altogether different. Because Jesus realized something basic: That if a man were lying, he will steal.


And if a man will steal, he will kill. So instead of just getting bogged down on one thing, Jesus said, Nicodemus, you must be born again!!




In other words, your whole structure must be changed. A nation that will keep people enslaved for 244 years will make them things! And therefore they will exploit them and poor people generally, economically. A nation that will exploit economically will have to have foreign investments. It will have to use its military might to protect them. All these problems are tied together.




What I’m saying today is, we must go from this convention and say, America, you must be born again!!




So I conclude by saying today, that we have a task. Let us go out with a divine dissatisfaction. Let us be dissatisfied. Until America will no longer have a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds, let us be dissatisfied.


Until the tragic walls that separate the city of wealth and comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed, let us be dissatisfied.


Until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history, and every family will live in a decent, sanitary home, let us be dissatisfied.


Until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools are transformed into bright tomorrows of equality, let us be dissatisfied.


Until integration is not seen as a problem, but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity, let us be dissatisfied.


Until men and women, however black or white they be, are judged on the content of their character, not their skin, let us be dissatisfied.


Let us be dissatisfied, until every state capital be housed by governors who will do justly, who will love mercy, and who will love humbly with his god. Let us be dissatisfied.


Until from every city hall justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream, let us be dissatisfied.


Until that day when the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid, let us be dissatisfied!


And until men will recognize that, out of one blood, God made all men, let us be dissatisfied.


Until that day when nobody will shout “white power,” when nobody will shout “black power,” but everybody will talk about God’s power and human power —




I must confess, my friends, that the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will be rocky places of frustration, and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there.


There will be moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. Our dreams will sometimes be shattered. Our ethereal hopes blasted.


We may again have to stand before the bier of some courageous civil rights worker whose life will be snuffed out by the acts of bloodthirsty mobs.


Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.


As we continue our course, we may gain consolation from the words left by that great freedom fighter of yesterday, James Weldon Johnson, “stormy the road … Felt in the days when hope unborn had died … Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet come to the place for which our fathers died … We have come all the way that with tears have been watered … We have come through the blood of the slaughtered … til now we stand at last … where the bright gleam of our bright star is cast.,


Let this affirmation be our ringing cry. It will give us the courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength.


When our days become dreary, with low-hovering clouds of despair, when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the mountains of evil.


A power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrow. Let us realize that the mark of the universe is long but bends toward justice. Let us realize that Bryant is right: truth will rise again!


Let us go out realizing that the Bible is right. Be not deceived. Whatsoever the man soweth, that shall he also reap. This is our hope for the future. With this faith we will be able to say in the future we have overcome. We have overcome. Deep in my heart I did believe we would overcome.




[End of audio recording.]


Grace Lee Boggs: I have to honestly say that I don’t like that kind of rhetoric. I have enormous respect for King. But I think that kind of rhetoric pacifies people rather than activates them. That has been my experience.


I will not go away saying that I like that. I don’t.


Bill Gaskins: You’re not supposed to.


Grace Lee Boggs: Some kind of rhetoric is disempowering. I think that King practiced that often.


Bill Gaskins: Say more.


Grace Lee Boggs: It was very difficult to give revolutionary leadership. You have to be involved in actual struggle. You have to struggle with yourself. You have to learn that there are situations that you can do nothing about. You have to realize there are times when you make terrible mistakes.


But you have to be involved in the struggle. You have to understand when what you say and what you convey to people has more passion than reason. So I don’t go along with that. I think he made enormous progress from the 1963 March on Washington to the days after the rebellion.


King recognized he had not paid enough attention to the young people and what was happening to them in the city. He was an enormously important man in our history. I have read a lot of him in the last few years. I can learn a lot from him. But what he said doesn’t help you to think. We have to do a lot of thinking.


I think the Occupy movement has found a community. Do some more thinking. Do some more imagining.


Bill Gaskins: Do you want to challenge her, Melina? You said you wanted to challenge.


Grace, it is interesting you use the term “reason” in the context of Martin Luther King and his rhetorical style. That style is within the Christian church.


Consider how un-reasonable American apartheid was in the middle of the 20th century. There is a role for inspirational and inspired rhetoric that would enable people to envision themselves opposing unlimited hell on their bodies, unlimited hell on their souls.


So for the people who perhaps didn’t have the opportunity that you did, to be in the academy and in the midst of letters that are about thinking deeply, about what has happened before and the role of those works in making sense of the present, for those people who didn’t have that, they had something that could not be quantified and was not tangible.


Let’s understand something. It is very easy for people to forget this. King represented the people to whom he was speaking. He was not leading. More than anything else, he was trying to lead the overwhelming majority of white Americans who had no frame of reference for what it meant to not be considered a human being.


While it didn’t work for you, Grace, and doesn’t work for you, I think it is important to understand the power of what might appear to be unreasonable rhetoric. There are people who consider what you are doing in Detroit completely unreasonable and illogical. But it is working.


Grace Lee Boggs: I don’t say that King was unreasonable or irrational for his time. What I’m saying is that for our time we have to do more thinking.


Bill Gaskins: Agreed.


Grace Lee Boggs: We have to understand that it is not a question of abolishing segregation and discrimination at this moment. This is a question of how we are going to move to the next stage of human evolution. All of us.


How are we going to acknowledge what we have done in the past to pollute the earth, to endanger the life of all of us and all living things, what we have done to other peoples, what we have done to other societies, how we have been dismissive of other peoples?


We have so many things that we look at ourselves and change. To think of revolution in very different terms from the way most people think of revolutions. Most people think of revolutions as getting more things like healthcare and more — not fancy cars — but food to eat, etc.


How are we going to get that healthcare? Are we going to get it through more sophisticated medical operations? Are we going to get that by looking more at a barefoot doctor system? Are we going to get that education by more student loans and more classes that integrate us into the system?


Or are we going to get a better education by involving the young people from K through 12 and all through university and the community and utilize their energy? We are at a threshold of very important changes about everything.


We have to look very, very carefully at our institutions and what they have done to corrupt us and how we have become corrupted by our involvement in them. We don’t need more education. We need different education.




We don’t need more healthcare. We need different healthcare. We don’t need more jobs. We need different kinds of work. All of those things we are now faced with as an opportunity and not a danger.




Bill Gaskins: I was successful getting you riled up. That was my goal here.


We are going to end up here. Now it’s on you in the audience. Tell us.


Female Speaker: Where do we go from here? Thank you, Bill Gaskins and the New School, for convening this gathering and even including the ancestors with Martin Luther King. That was really important.


Where do I go from here? I am standing right here now. I will start today, on the 22nd. One strong message I got from Grace Lee Boggs is that you are 94 years old.


Grace Lee Boggs: 97.


Female Speaker: 97?!? Is anyone in this room that old? That is our goal, to get to be at least 97. You know? What does it take? You are alive and Martin Luther King, Jr., is not alive. You are here and he is not. How do we transcend the generations and get to speak to younger people when we are 96?


This is what I am going to do. I also want to refer to something else. Pay attention. How do you pay attention? You have to be alive and vital in the world.


I am going to take my vitamins. I am going to drink a lot of water. I am going to eat good food and work on growing good food and living in a good environment. I am going to get a lot of sleep.


When I sleep, I am revitalized. I have one more day to do things. I am renewed. I am more creative when I get my sleep. Once I take care of myself, I can go out in the world and do more things.


My goal is to get to be at least 96.




Bill Gaskins: Thank you.


Grace Lee Boggs: Let me say one thing. I am glad you raised the question of age. I think we have to realize that one of the things that has enabled the human race to evolve is that we have had intergenerational relationships throughout our history.


Today, age segregation is one of the worst things that has happened to our society. It is even worse than race segregation. I shouldn’t say that.


Anyway, I think we do have to recognize how dehumanized we have become from segregation by generations. We have to do something about that. When we get together, the young people have to be demanding of the older ones. Don’t just support us.


Criticize the young people. Listen to the young people. Help them learn. But we have to have a genuine interconnection. That can be very tricky. Old people don’t just support young people and vice versa. Let’s change all that.


Male Speaker: Thank you. Thank you all up there. That was amazing and wonderful knowledge to learn. I want to just start by acknowledging my friend, Melina there. She is a very courageous young lady. During that November eviction, I was standing up there with some militarized NYPD.


To my left, Melina was there with a number of her colleagues in arms (not literally) but supporting in solidarity with Zuccotti Park and the Occupy movement at 1:00 in the morning facing this barricade. Thank you for continuing to be there with this OWS movement.


Where would I be? Where do I go from here? Where I go from here, directly out of this, because I participate in a lot of things today that have changed me, is with a greater sensitivity and more thoughtfulness going into the commons. Sensitivity about who I am in the commons and how I am participating in the commons and how I can contribute the most with that whether it’s my privilege, lack thereof, or whatever gifts I may have. I also need to be sensitive and thoughtful to other people’s contributions and gifts. Thank you for that.




Female Speaker: Hi. Thank you for doing this. And thanks, Grace Lee Boggs, for being here. I want to ask a question. Just asking people to answer can be a little patronizing. You have obviously been involved with the struggle for a very long time. You have seen a lot of changes in the society. I have read a lot of your work.


Looking at the former struggle in industrial capital in the 1960s, what is your vision of the current organization of society and how it has changed? What do you think of this form of struggle now? You have talked about women’s work, reproductive labor, and community. What does that mean? What does it look like for you?


Melina, you can answer that, too.


Bill Gaskins: Tell her to read the book.


Grace Lee Boggs: That’s a big question. What I think is important is to keep on learning and to realize that every struggle is an opportunity to learn something from. But you have to be involved in real struggle.


You cannot think just in terms of how many people you are involving. You have to ask yourself what is happening at this time in the world. How have things changed from what they were two years ago or three years ago or decades ago?


You need to ask yourself a lot of questions. You need a few people at least. I have no easy answers. I just don’t have any. That’s all.


Female Speaker: First of all, thank you. This has been amazing.


I came here with a lot of sadness and grief. I have been really inspired by everything you have said. Three nights ago, on my street, right in front of my building in the Bronx, in Riverdale, a young 26-year-old man was killed for his iPhone.


I really still feel terrible about this situation. It has brought our block together. There is a vacant lot out front. Just hearing about Detroit, I am already envisioning the community garden, the community center, that could arise in that vacant lot and bring together people from the Bronx and New York.


From this deep sadness, I think something positive can come out of it. I really thank you.




Grace Lee Boggs: I think we all have to worry about this question of where this violence will go. It’s already led to several counter-revolutionary things, like what happened with Trayvon Martin in Florida.


How are we going to deal with that? How will we, as we say in Detroit, “Bring the neighbor back into the hood?”


That can happen with very small acts. That can happen with everybody having an apartment party for people on the block once a week. It can take very simple activities to restore the neighbor to the hood.


But that’s not only the way we’re going to change ourselves. It’s the only way we’re going to slow down the counter-revolution, which is moving very fast because of the great destabilization we’re undergoing.


It’s not going to happen overnight. But we need a vision of where we’re going. That’s where Marx was so strong, in talking about beloved community. He was talking about a society built on relations between persons, rather than things.


He was not talking about integration into our materialist society. He was talking about growing our souls. And that is an opportunity we all have. We can choose between growing our souls and growing our pocketbooks.


Female Speaker: I have to thank you all very much. You’ve given me lots to think about personally. I’ve been involved with organizing in New York for 20 years. First as a housing organizer, and in the last few years frustratingly working to stop developments that are destructive within progressive groups.


I’ve been operating confrontationally. That’s what I’m good at.


When I went to Zuccotti, there were lots of young people I didn’t know. I asked a young African American man where to go to eat. He just said, “Eat with us.”


I was made to feel welcome from that moment. While this conversation has been going on, I’ve been thinking how the kitchen was at the center of Zuccotti. People had to go in there to commune.


If we put the kitchens outside and invite the police to eat — this may sound naive in light of the events of November 17th — it’s a way to open the door.


Being part Native American, I know the mythology of this country. But we can touch that if we can reach people.


I’m going to go forward, working to put the kitchen on the outside.




Grace Lee Boggs: That’s a wonderful idea!




Male Speaker: Three or four months ago, my husband and I were listening to NPR on a Sunday morning. We had the fortune to hear Grace on NPR. One thing I got from it — it was really one of the best broadcasts I’ve ever heard on NPR — was something King said. It was the notion of a “way out of nowhere.”


I thought that was just brilliant. I’m finishing a Masters in Urban Policy here in New School, and I’m graduating in a month.




One thing you said tonight, I think, will help me as I move forward and enter the work force. I want to read it. It’s what you said this evening: we underestimate the power of thought and re-imagination.


I’m doing my final thesis on leadership. I’m coming up with notions of leadership. For me, the thing that will be critical is realizing leadership comes from different spaces. It’s not something that’s a top-down approach. It’s something that everyone gets to share and create and produce knowledge.


Thank you. I think you have helped me re-imagine that.




Grace Lee Boggs: Thank you. I’d like to recommend a book by Margaret Wheatley, called Leadership and the New Science. She says that, according to Newtonian science, you’re trying to achieve mass. But quantum physics tells us to see things in terms of connections; organic connections.


Small actions, even if they’re organic, can achieve great results. Think about that, and the way we have to think differently, from Newtonian to quantum physics.




Bill Gaskins: With that, I’d like to thank everyone for being here. I’d like to thank Jesse Viallobos.




My partner in crime. [Joke/joking.]


Thank you Melina.




And thanks to Grace. Thank you.




And again, thanks to everybody here in AV, here at Tishman, for making all this technology work for us all! Thanks up there too.


[End of event]


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