Today was the memorial of Grace Lee Boggs, my mentor and friend. There was an extensive program. Danny Glover came to honor Grace. There were indigenous grandmothers, family members, musicians, poets including Tawana Petty and Will Copeland (who Grace called the next CLR James), scholars, and so many babies, all vocalizing from the audience.
Grace Lee, director of American Revolutionary, spoke after a lovely memorial film.
Julia Putnam and the children of the Boggs School sang their school song and it was a cuteness overload.
Nobuko and her son offered a song that landed like a meditation.
Scott Kurashige made us laugh with words from Grace (on how his ass was high like a black man’s), wearing a gorgeous white outfit originally gifted to Grace’s husband Jimmy from Kwame Nkrumah.
Angela Jones gave an immensely moving and poetic tribute that left us all weeping.
Emily Lawson and her daughter Tula led the Detroit Asian Youth Project in a collective piece of lessons from #graceleetaughtus.
Invincible shared audio from a conversation they had with Grace this year where she was still demanding better of all of us. Then they brought up Jenny Lee and Kristian Davis Bailey and they all shared core questions that Grace left them with.
There was so so so much, it was moving and loving.
I was asked to sing A Change Gonna Come, a song Grace loved, a song Jimmy loved. I sang it for her many times over the 9 years she was in my life.
I have been coughing for 3 weeks and when I tried to practice, no sound came out. But the spirit in the room was powerful, using all of us to love and release Grace. When it was time to sing, sound came, and for that I am grateful.
Here are the words I shared before I sang, bullet points from Grace:
– philosophy can be a root for a nomadic soul
– there are new ways to listen to my parents and elders…I must love them and hold them accountable
– use Hendricks for a proper gin and tonic
– conversation is a revolutionary activity
– creating science fiction is a revolutionary activity
– emergence is a revolutionary science
– being a good aunt and daughter is revolutionary
– not having kids might reduce the stress in my life
– apocalypse is an opportunity for a greater humanity
– transform myself to transform the world
A pastor at the end said two things I loved – first that Grace had lived so long because god was scared of that conversation. And second, that even though Grace was not a religious person, she embodied god more than most people in church on Sunday.
We ended things with a second line, dancing in the rain.
And there it is – Grace is everywhere. And Grace is gone.