Happy 100th Birthday Grace Lee Boggs

June 27, 2015

Each June a couple thousand people gather in Detroit for the Allied Media Conference, a gathering of social changemakers who utilize media to create social change. There is always an intentional strong focus on the local community, and one cannot talk about social justice and Detroit, without mentioning Grace Lee Boggs.

During last week's closing ceremony, held in McGregor Hall at Wayne State University, local organizer and Detroit Asian Youth Project founder, Marcia Lee read a personal piece written in honor of Grace's 100th birthday. As one of Grace's chosen grandchildren, Marcia visits Grace daily in her first floor home underneath the Boggs Center. After Lee finished reading her piece, 1000 colorful origami cranes floated down from the 2nd floor, each with a quote from Grace, and the building erupted with an enthusiastic "Happy Birthday Grace".

Hyphen wishes Grace Lee Boggs a Happy 100th Birthday.
We thank you for the work you've done.
We are committed to carrying it forward.

- Mia Nakano

When I think of Grace-nowadays, I first see her hands.
Delicate rice paper skin,
nails that amazingly collect the day’s pollution
without touching outside air,
and thin blue veins
pumping the blood of 100 year-old stories.

When I look at her hands,
they look incredibly fragile,
making it almost unbelievable
that she engaged and struggled
through every single uprising, rebellion, and cultural change
of the last 100 years.

Almost unbelievable that she worked with and
marched besides Malcolm X,
participated in bringing about
black leadership in Detroit,
and that through her ideas and love-she birthed us-
the leaders of the Allied Media Conference,
and thousands of others into the conviction
that we are the ones that we have been waiting for.

It is almost unbelievable-
until she reaches out to hold my hand.

The power in her hold is tremendous.
Strong, fierce, and warm.
Within her fingers there is absolute certainty in her belief that
we can, we are, and we will re-evolutionize ourselves and our world.

She has told me so many times in these last few months that
she believes in us!

She trusts that we have the capacity, wisdom, creativity, love, and resilience
to create a world where every
person, animal, tree, the earth-
have the opportunity
to live free of fear and oppression.

With the touch of her palm,
she reminds me that vision and action
must be combined with reflection and an understanding of our reality as it is,
a commitment to change with the times
and a dedication to knowing our own power,
and not letting anyone take it away from us.

Through the work of her hands she gifts us with her wisdom,
we-combine it with our own inner voice and conviction, and re-volution!

--- Marcia Lee


Mia Nakano

Mia Nakano
LGBTQ Editor + Founder

Mia Nakano is a freelance photographer, videographer, and web designer based out of Oakland, CA. She is the founding photo-editor of Hyphen. Her work has been seen in dozens of media outlets including Colorlines, the Kathmandu Post, and Democracy Now!. Nakano has contributed to organizations such as the Smithsonian, Salon.com, and the de Young Museum.