Activist, Civil Rights Icon Grace Lee Boggs’ Historic Detroit Home to Become a Museum

The home of late activist couple James and Grace Lee Boggs on Detroit’s East Side is slated to become a community museum, the James and Grace Lee Boggs Foundation announced last week.

What to know: The museum is expected to open in 2023 or 2024. It will focus on the Boggs’ activism for civil rights, labor, ecology and justice movements, as well as their “influence on younger generations of activists, artists, educators, policymakers and humanitarians,” according to Detriot Metro Times.

  • Grace Lee, a Chinese American with a doctorate in philosophy, was a prominent leader in the Black Power movement. In 1953, she married James Boggs, an African American autoworker, and they spent the rest of their lives fighting for social justice.
  • Located at 3061 Field St., the brick, two-flat house was designated by the City of Detroit as a historic district in 2012. As a museum, the home will allow guests to get a glimpse of the Boggs’ domestic life.
  • Visitors will also learn about the couple’s concepts of visionary organizing and sustainable community. These can be seen in the work of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership — located on the floor above the planned museum — and the James and Grace Lee Boggs School (K-8) two short blocks away.
  • The Boggs Foundation has opened a fundraising campaign to kick off the museum’s planning and design process. As of this writing, the nonprofit has raised over $19,000 of its $100,000 goal.
James and Grace Lee Boggs. Image via James and Grace Lee Boggs Foundation

What supporters are saying: The Boggs Foundation says it has received queries from people all over the world who want to visit the late couple’s home. “We know this announcement will generate a sense of excitement for the growing number of people who understand that Jimmy and Grace Lee Boggs’ transformative visions and strategies are indispensable to solving the social crises of the present and future,” said President Scott Kurashige.

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  • The foundation will host educational programs and public events prior to the museum’s opening. On June 23, it held its first event, “From #StopAsianHate to Cross-Racial Solidarity,” in partnership with Haymarket Books and featured Danny Glover, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Maya Soetoro-Ng.
  • State Sen. Stephanie Chang, a mentee of Grace Lee Boggs and former resident of the house, acknowledged the impact the couple left on Detroiters and people across the globe. “It is important that we preserve the Boggs house as a museum, so that all who visit can continue to learn from their activism, writing, and organizing,” she said.
  • Poet and scholar Dr. Gloria House, a longtime friend of the Boggs, expressed excitement over the upcoming museum. “Now future generations will be able to find there historic books, art, files, photos, speeches, papers and memorabilia — all testaments of the revolutionary struggles in which Jimmy and Grace played momentous roles, not only in Detroit, but nationally and abroad,” she said.
  • Dr. Robin D. G. Kelley, Distinguished Professor at UCLA and author of “Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination,” referred to the Boggs’ home as a gathering point for everyone who wanted to make a revolution. “Their home is an authentic landmark, both as a repository of 20th century history and an inspiration to those who continue to do the work,” he said.

Featured Image City of Detroit (left) and James and Grace Lee Boggs Foundation (right)

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