In Love and Struggle

The Revolutionary Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs

By Stephen M. Ward

464 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 10 halftones, bibl., index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8078-3520-3
    Published: November 2016
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-1770-1
    Published: September 2016

Justice, Power, and Politics

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James Boggs (1919-1993) and Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015) were two largely unsung but critically important figures in the black freedom struggle. Born and raised in Alabama, James Boggs came to Detroit during the Great Migration, becoming an automobile worker and a union activist. Grace Lee was a Chinese American scholar who studied Hegel, worked with Caribbean political theorist C. L. R. James, and moved to Detroit to work toward a new American revolution. As husband and wife, the couple was influential in the early stages of what would become the Black Power movement, laying the intellectual foundation for racial and urban struggles during one of the most active social movement periods in recent U.S. history.

 

Stephen Ward details both the personal and the political dimensions of the Boggses' lives, highlighting the vital contributions these two figures made to black activist thinking. At once a dual biography of two crucial figures and a vivid portrait of Detroit as a center of activism, Ward's book restores the Boggses, and the intellectual strain of black radicalism they shaped, to their rightful place in postwar American history.

About the Author

Stephen Ward is associate professor of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan.
For more information about Stephen M. Ward, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"Fills a gaping hole not just in the history of the lives of two extraordinary activists, but in the history of the 20th century U.S. Left, and the history of Detroit. People interested in any of the above should read this book."--

Against the Current

"Will intrigue readers interested in the history of Detroit, black radicalism, civil rights, antidiscrimination efforts, social justice work, and urban activism."--Library Journal

“Examines the intersections among Marxism, socialism, communism, Pan Africanism, labor activism, and civil rights in the 20th century. Recommended.”--Choice

“Ward's painstaking attention to the ideas of both James and Grace Lee Boggs helps to illuminate the rigor of their revolutionary thought, and he elegantly traces their shift from workers' liberation to black liberation.”--Michigan Historical Review

“Stephen Ward’s highly anticipated biography of James and Grace Lee Boggs lives up to its promise, and then some. Set largely in Detroit, the center of black working-class insurgency, In Love and Struggle tells the compelling story of what happens when two of America’s most original thinkers dedicate their lives to acting in the world. Jimmy and Grace insisted on the urgency of philosophy, on constantly questioning, and on staying grounded in community. With absolute clarity and care, Ward traces the couple’s evolution toward revolution, engages the prodigious body of work they left behind, constructs a new history of U.S. radical movements, and opens a window onto an unfinished future.”--Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

"Grace Lee and James Boggs shared a passionate commitment to global social justice movements alongside a deep solidarity with the Detroit black working class. Stephen Ward brilliantly captures the arc of their lives from Marxist theorizing to making the Black Revolution to building vital social movements at the grassroots. Ward has written the definitive biography of this extraordinary partnership."--Martha Biondi, author of The Black Revolution on Campus and To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City