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[COMMENTARY] We Must be the Change (Grace Lee Boggs of the "Boggs Center")

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  • madchinaman
    WE MUST BE THE CHANGE By Grace Lee Boggs Michigan Citizen http://www.boggscenter.org/ideas/speeches/mc2-1-2003.shtml - In those days even department stores
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2006
      By Grace Lee Boggs
      Michigan Citizen


      In those days even department stores would come right out and
      say: "We don't hire Orientals." So I joined the March on Washington
      Movement initiated by A.Philip Randolph in 1941 to demand jobs for
      blacks in the defense plants
      concluded that although rebellions are important because they
      represent the standing up of the oppressed, they fall short of
      revolution because people at the grassroots and community level have
      not been involved in creating the new values, new truths, new
      relationships and new infrastructures that are the foundation for a
      new society.


      I'd like to thank the MLK Symposium Committee for inviting me to
      keynote the university's 16th annual celebration of the birthday of
      Dr. King. It is a great honor, especially in this period when the
      national spotlight is on the University for its righteous insistence
      on maintaining race as a factor in university admissions for the
      benefit of the whole student body.

      I'd also like to commend the committee for choosing Gandhi's
      maxim "We must be the change we wish to see in the world" as the
      theme of this year's symposium. I don't know any other statement
      that sums up so succinctly the challenge facing us as individuals
      and as a nation in the wake of 9/11. Whatever our class, religious,
      ethnic or sexual identity, if we want to enjoy the safety and
      happiness that have been the promise of this country, we can no
      longer evade making profound personal and public changes in how we
      live and how we carry out our responsibilities as citizens. At this
      point this means accepting the responsibilities of global
      citizenship and saying NO to the war in Iraq, as King did to the War
      in Vietnam.

      I hope that what I have to say will renew the commitment to change
      that is the main purpose of these celebrations.

      Speaking here this morning is for me a kind of culmination of my
      warm relationships with the University of Michigan over many years.
      More than 30 years ago Jimmy and I started meeting with Jim Chaffers
      class in Urban Design and Social Change every fall after the
      November elections to explore the question of Cities and
      Citizenship. Over the years I have also participated in the
      imaginative Futuring and Environmental Justice conferences organized
      by Bunyan Bryant. and the School of Natural Resources and the

      Since the publication of my autobiography five years ago students
      from this and other campuses frequently interview me about Detroit
      where I have lived for fifty years, most of that time in the same

      In the last two years the Boggs Center has become a magnet for
      faculty, students and visiting speakers who enjoy our tours of
      Detroit and our Scholar-Activist dialogues. From the GIEU video you
      got a sense of how hands-on work with young Detroiters gives
      students an opportunity to practice transformation, as Danny Glover
      put it. Asian American students meet at the Center to map plans for
      revitalizing the city¹s Chinatown.

      Every other Sunday teachers, students preparing to be teachers and
      university professors preparing them meet to begin building the
      movement needed to replace our existing "factory-type schools" with
      Freedom Schools which nurture the creativity and critical thinking
      of children. This is a broadsheet we've just published.

      As I approach 88, with three pair of glasses, two hearing aids, very
      few teeth but most of my marbles, I am often asked why I haven²t
      been burned out by so many decades of Movement activism. I think it
      is because I believe so passionately in the power of ideas both to
      enlarge and to restrict our imaginations.

      I became a Movement activist more than sixty years ago when, after
      receiving my Ph.D. in philosophy, I discovered that there were no
      jobs for Chinese-American woman philosophers. In those days even
      department stores would come right out and say: "We don't hire
      Orientals." So I joined the March on Washington Movement initiated
      by A.Philip Randolph in 1941 to demand jobs for blacks in the
      defense plants, and after I discovered the power of the black
      movement to change blacks and the country, decided to devote the
      rest of my life to being a movement activist in the black community.

      In the early 1950s I met and married Jimmy Boggs, an African
      American auto worker, labor-community activist and writer who was
      born and raised in a little town in Alabama and who was fond of
      saying that his ideas came from living through three different
      epochs: Agriculture, Industry and Automation. So when the Black
      Power movement began in Detroit in the early 1960s I was able to
      dive into it, becoming so active that FBI records suggest that I
      might be Afro-Chinese.

      The urban rebellions were a great awakening for me. In the late 60s
      I had been an activist in the black community for nearly three
      decades but had never found it necessary to distinguish between a
      Rebellion and a Revolution. Now, with young blacks joining the Black
      Panther Party by the tens of thousands, with black politicians and
      other careerists taking advantage of the rebellions to advance
      themselves, and with corporations and institutions falling over one
      another in their rush to coopt blacks, Jimmy and I had to ask
      ourselves new questions. Out of that questioning, we concluded that
      although rebellions are important because they represent the
      standing up of the oppressed, they fall short of revolution because
      people at the grassroots and community level have not been involved
      in creating the new values, new truths, new relationships and new
      infrastructures that are the foundation for a new society.

      That is why, beginning with 1968, Jimmy and I felt that we had to go
      beyond "Protest Politics" and concentrate instead on projecting and
      initiating new ideas and new forms of struggles that involve young
      people especially in exploring in theory and practice the new forms
      of Work, Education, Community, Citizenship that have become possible
      and necessary in the wake of the rebellions.

      The eruption of the Black Power movement and the urban rebellions
      had a similar impact on King, although few speakers talk about this
      because it is much easier to honor King as a civil rights advocate
      than as an advocate of radical revolution. In 1964 King won the
      Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership of the civil rights movement.
      In the 1950s tens of thousands of African Americans in Montgomery,
      Alabama, inspired by his vision of the beloved community, had
      carried on a year-long, non-violent, disciplined and ultimately
      successful boycott, struggling against their dehumanization not
      as angry victims or rebels but as new men and women, representative
      of a new more human society. Using methods that transformed
      themselves, they triggered the human identity and ecological
      movements which over the last forty years have been creating a new
      civil society in the United States.

      What is still largely unexplored is the tremendous leap in King's
      thinking after his encounters in 1966 with black inner city youth
      in Chicago. As a result of these meetings and the subsequent
      eruption of the Black Power movement, King recognized that neither
      integration and the career opportunities opened up by the civil
      rights movement or Black Power met the needs of a whole new
      generation of black youth. "One unfortunate thing about Black
      Power," he said, "is that it gives race a priority precisely at a
      time when the impact of automation and other forces have made the
      economic question fundamental for blacks and whites alike."

      As a result, in his major writings and speeches in 1967 [Where Do We
      Go From Here: Community or Chaos? and Time to Break Silence] King
      began to project a new kind of radical revolution, a revolution that
      would be non-violent but would rapidly begin the shift from
      a "thing-oriented¹ society to a Operson-oriented¹ society." "When
      machines and computers, profit motives, and property rights are
      considered more important than people," he said, Othe giant triplets
      of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being

      Warning that material growth had been made an end in itself and that
      our scientific power had outrun our spiritual power, King rejected
      the dictatorship of High Tech, which he said diminishes people
      because it eliminates the sense of participation. "Enlarged material
      powers," he warned repeatedly, "spell enlarged peril if there is no
      proportionate growth of the soul." We have "guided missiles and
      misguided men."

      King also worried that the integration won through the civil rights
      struggle was giving birth to a black middle class who would be
      preoccupied with individual upward mobility. He deplored the way
      that educators were trying to instill middle-class values in black
      youth, noting that "it was precisely when young Negroes (sic) threw
      off their middle-class values and put careers and wealth in a
      secondary role" that they made an historic social contribution. He
      called for new programs that would involve young people in "self-
      transforming and structure-transforming" direct actions "in
      our dying cities." and for "new forms of work for those for whom
      traditional jobs are not available."

      "The work which improves the conditions of mankind," he wrote. "the
      work which extends knowledge and increases power and enriches
      literature and elevates thought is not done to secure a living. It
      is not the work of slaves, driven to their task either by the lash
      of a master or by animal necessities. It is the work of men who
      perform it for their own sake and not that they may get more to eat
      or drink or wear or display. In a state of society where want is
      abolished, work of this sort could be enormously increased."

      He also began projecting a new concept of global
      citizenship. "Every nation," he said, "must now develop an
      overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the
      best in their individual societies."

      King was a Movement activist for only thirteen years, from his
      participation in the Montgomery Bus Boycott to his assassination in
      April 1968. But the dialectical development of his thinking during
      those turbulent years is unmistakable. During the civil rights
      struggle he struggled to break down racist barriers to black access
      to institutions. But after having been confronted in 1966 with the
      anger and despair of black youth, he began calling for a radical
      revolution and a new social system that goes beyond both Capitalism
      which he said is "too I-centered, too individualistic" and Communism
      which is "too collective, too static."

      In making this leap, King exemplified one of the most important
      qualities of Movement leadership, openness to the new contradictions
      and challenges that emerge from both your successes and your
      setbacks. This was also one of Malcolm's great strengths - and

      In his civil rights years King had drawn mainly on Gandhi¹s ideas of
      non-violence. After 1996 he still emphasized non-violence but he
      began to draw more on Gandhi's profound critiques of Western

      In 1888, when he was the age of many of you here today, Gandhi's
      family, like most of yours, wanted him to succeed in the system. So
      they sent him to London to study law. Eager to justify the
      sacrifices his family was making on his and their behalf, Gandhi
      tried to transform himself into an English gentleman. He signed up
      for a dancing class, bought himself a silk hat and spent ten minutes
      every day before a huge mirror, watching himself arrange his tie and
      parting his hair in the correct fashion. In a passage from his
      autobiography, amazingly similar to the one in which Malcolm X
      describes pouring lye on his kinky hair to make it as straight as
      any white man¹s, Gandhi writes: "My hair was by no means soft, and
      every day it meant a regular struggle with the brush to keep it in

      However, after returning to India with his law degree and finding it
      difficult to make a living, Gandhi decided to try his luck in South
      Africa where there was a sizable community of Indian workers
      imported to do the menial work below the dignity of Europeans. As
      he experienced racist violence against himself and witnessed it
      against Indian workers and blacks, he began to identify with the
      most oppressed, conquered his feelings of inadequacy and his fear of
      the system, recognized the moral bankruptcy of those in power, and
      separated himself from their values.

      In this process, which continued after he return to India, Gandhi
      created a new form of struggle based not on physical violence but on
      the spiritual power of Truth and Love (which he called satyagraha)
      and developed personal habits, such as celibacy and vegetarianism,
      that enabled him to experience the freedom and power that come from
      self-discipline. He also arrived at amazingly prescient critiques of
      Western civilization and Western strategies for revolutionary

      The main reason why Western civilization lacks Spirituality, or an
      awareness of our interconnectedness with one another and with the
      universe, according to Gandhi, is that it has given priority to
      economic and technological development over human and community
      development. Advanced technology has made it possible for people to
      perform miracles but it has impoverished us spiritually because it
      has made us feel that who and what we are is determined by outside
      forces. Traditional societies lacked our material comforts and
      conveniences. But individuals had more Soul, or a belief in the
      individual's power to make moral choices, because these societies
      valued the community relationships which they depended on for

      Because modern societies, capitalist or communist, are committed to
      unlimited growth, Gandhi anticipated that they would eventually
      become so gigantic and complex that human beings would be reduced
      to masses, dependent on experts, serving machines instead of being
      served by them, Moreover, the abundance created by pursuing
      unlimited economic growth would make it almost impossible for people
      to distinguish between Needs and Wants, so that we/they would end up
      being enslaved by the temptations of material wealth and luxuries, a
      form of bondage he considered even more cruel than physical

      For similar reasons Gandhi rejected Western strategies for
      revolutionary struggle that depend upon constantly agitating the
      masses and increasing their anger, militancy and rebellion.
      Struggles of this kind, he said, can only end up with political
      leaders who are preoccupied with prestige and power and with states
      dominating rather than serving society.

      The struggle for independence from Britain, he insisted, should not
      be mainly a struggle for state power but should revolve around
      going to people at the grassroots, encouraging them to transform
      their inner and outer lives, helping them to think for themselves
      and to create self-reliant local communities based on Work that
      preserves rather than destroys skills and encourages cooperation
      rather than competition, and Education whose goal is the building of
      community rather than increasing the status and earning power of the

      When Gandhi was developing these ideas and organizing these
      struggles nearly a hundred years ago, they seemed idealistic and
      far-fetched. But as I reflect on the last century and recall how it
      began with high hopes in mass production, in the Russian revolution
      and in Third World struggles for political independence, and ended
      up with the de-industrialization and devastation of cities like
      Detroit , the collapse of the Soviet Union, and seemingly endless
      violence in post-colonial nations, I believe that Gandhi¹s critique
      of Western civilization, which was also King's, can help us build a
      21st century movement to create post-industrial societies in which
      governments derive their power from self-reliant grassroots

      We will never know how King would have developed had he lived to see
      the 21st century. What we do know is that in the thirty-five years
      since his death,. our communities have been turned into wastelands
      by the Hi Tech juggernaut and the export of first, factory and, now,
      computer jobs overseas so that global corporations can make more
      profit with cheaper labor. We have witnessed and shared the
      suffering of countless numbers of young people in our inner cities
      who, in their struggle to survive, have resorted to hustling and
      ended up in prisons. We have watched our young people shooting
      baskets 24/7, with dreams of making it in the NBA. We don¹t know
      whether to weep or rejoice as we watch others, like Tupac,
      struggling to make it in the Hip Hop world.

      Like King after 1966 we have wondered what we should say to the
      40/50% of inner city youth who reject the pleas and promises of the
      establishment and their parents to stay in schools and get their
      diplomas so that they can get a good job, make a lot of money and
      move out of our disintegrating communities. And it is not only inner
      city youth. Suburban schools are riddled with substance abuse and
      haunted by fears of another Columbine. On campuses young people
      with bachelor¹s degrees, unable to find meaningful work and
      unwilling to accept work without meaning, linger on to become
      professional students.

      The 9/11 terrorist attack was a terrible crime against humanity but
      it was also a wakeup call, challenging us to take Gandhi¹s and
      King¹s critique of Western civilization seriously. As Wendell Berry
      pointed out so perceptively in his Thoughts in the Presence of Fear,
      written a month later.

      "We can no longer accept uncritically the belief that economic
      growth and technology are only good....We now have a clear
      inescapable choice. We can continue to promote a global economic
      system of unlimited free trade ...but now recognizing that such a
      system will have to be protected by a hugely expensive police force
      that will be effective precisely to the extent that it oversways the
      freedom and privacy of the citizens of every nation. Or we can
      promote a decentralized world economy which would have the aim of
      assuring to every nation and region a local self-sufficiency in life-
      supporting goods."

      How do we build a movement to meet this challenge?

      One place to begin is with the crisis in our schools - which is one
      crisis Bush can¹t blame on Saddam Hussein. That is where I began
      after the Detroit Rebellion more than thirty years ago.

      In l969, after having taught in the Detroit Public Schools and
      having also been deeply involved in the struggle for community
      control of schools as part of the Black Power movement, I made a
      speech on education which has been widely reprinted.

      In that speech I warned that the youth rebellions breaking out all
      over the country had brought young people onto the historical stage,
      challenging us to turn them from angry rebels into positive change
      agents. The purpose of education, I said, cannot be mainly to
      increase the earning power of the individual or to supply workers
      for the ever-changing slots of the corporate machine, Children need
      to be given a sense of the "unique capacity of human beings to shape
      and create reality in accordance with conscious purposes and plans."

      Learning, must be related to the daily lives of children and must
      engage their hands and hearts as well as their heads. Especially in
      this age of rapid social and technical change, "it is not something
      you can make people do in their heads" with the perspective that
      years from now they will be able to get a good job and make a lot of
      money. Some children may accept this regimen. But those who feel
      most acutely the contradiction between the hopelessness of their
      daily lives and the abstractness of school "subjects" will create so
      much turmoil inside and outside the school that teachers can¹t teach
      and no one can learn.

      In cities all over the country politicians are now trying to resolve
      this crisis by hiring more military-minded CEOs, and by stricter and
      more frequentt testing. Their mindset is that of controllers and

      That is why it has become so urgent that we rethink how children
      learn and the purpose of education. We are not going to solve this
      crisis with more money, more computers, new buildings or new CEOs.
      To achieve the miracle that is now needed to transform our schools
      into places of learning, we need to tap into the creative energies
      of our children and our teachers. In this connection we have much to
      learn from the struggles in Alabama and Mississippi in the early

      In the spring of 1963 the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
      led by King launched a "fill the jails" campaign to desegregate
      downtown department stores and schools in Birmingham. But few local
      blacks were coming forward. Black adults were afraid of losing their
      jobs, local black preachers were reluctant to accept the leadership
      of an "outsider", and city police commissioner Bull Conner had
      everyone intimidated.

      Facing a major defeat, King was persuaded by his aide, James Bevel,
      to allow any child old enough to belong to a church to march. So on
      D-Day May 2, before the eyes of the whole nation, thousands of
      school children, many of them first graders, joined the movement and
      were beaten, fire-hosed, attacked by police dogs and herded off to
      jail in paddy wagons and school buses.

      The result was what has been called "The Children¹s Miracle."
      Inspired and shamed into action, thousands of adults rushed to join
      the movement. All over the country rallies were called to express
      outrage against Bull Connor¹s brutality.

      Locally the power structure was forced to desegregate lunch counters
      and dressing rooms in downtown stores, hire blacks to work downtown
      and begin desegregating the schools. Nationally the Kennedy
      administration, which had been trying not to alienate white
      Dixiecrat voters, was forced to begin drafting civil rights
      legislation as the only way to forestall more Birminghams.

      The next year as part of Mississippi Freedom Summer, activists
      created Freedom Schools because the existing school system (like ours
      today) had been organized to produce subjects, not citizens. To
      bring about a "mental revolution" reading, writing and speaking
      skills were taught through the discussion of black history, the
      power structure and the need to build a Movement to struggle against

      In 1963 and 1964 the main struggles were for desegregation and
      voting rights. Today our struggle is to rebuild communities and

      What we need to do now is to begin engaging our children in
      community-building activities with the same audacity with which the
      civil rights movement engaged them in desegregation and voter
      registration activities thirty-five years ago. Classes of school
      children from K-12 should be taking responsibility for maintaining
      neighborhood streets, planting community gardens, recycling waste,
      rehabbing houses, creating healthier school lunches, visiting and
      doing errands for the elderly, organizing neighborhood festivals,
      painting public murals. The possibilities are endless.

      This is the fastest way to motivate all our children to learn and at
      the same time reverse the physical deterioration of our
      neighborhoods. It is a wonderful way to nurture the desire of
      children to be of service and provide opportunities for children
      with different talents to make a difference and win the respect of
      their peers and elders.

      By giving children a better reason to study than just to get a job
      or to advance their individual upward mobility, it will also get
      their cognitive juices flowing. Learning will come from practice
      which has always been the best way to learn. And just imagine how
      much safer and livelier our neighborhoods would become, almost

      Because of its devastation by de-industrialization Detroit has
      provided an exceptional opportunity to begin introducing the idea of
      Freedom Schooling.. In 1973 Coleman Young was elected Detroit¹s
      first black mayor because the rebellion had made it clear that a
      white administration could not maintain law and order in the
      city. In his first two terms Young was able to make the police,
      fire and other city departments more reflective of the majority
      black population.. But he was helpless in the face of the Hi-Tech
      juggernaut and corporate abandonment.

      So as the 1980s brought crack, and increasing street violence, a
      desperate Young proposed a Casino industry to provide 50,000 jobs.
      We joined a broad coalition and succeeded in defeating the
      proposal. But during the struggle Young called us naysayers "What
      is your alternative?" he asked.

      Recognizing the legitimacy of Young¹s challenge, Jimmy made a speech
      Rebuilding Detroit: an Alternative to Casino Gambling, in which he
      projected a vision of Detroit as a collection of self-reliant
      communities where school children participate in community-building

      A few years later, inspired by this vision and Freedom Schooling in
      Mississippi, we created Detroit Summer, an intergenerational,
      multicultural program engaging high school and university youth in
      rebuilding, redefining and respiriting Detroit from the ground up.

      Detroit Summer began in 1992 with two main programs. A community
      gardening program to reconnect city youth with the earth and a mural
      painting program to reclaim public space, at the same time involving
      them in intergenerational discussions and workshops. Since then one
      thing has led to another.

      Through community gardening we made friends with the Gardening
      Angels, a loose network of community elders, many of whom had come
      from the South and who were already growing food for themselves
      and the community on vacant lots.

      Through Gerald Hairston, the catalyst for the Gardening Angels, we
      came into contact, on the east side, with 4H which uses community
      gardening to nurture the hearts, hands and heads of neighborhood
      youth -- and on the near west side with the Catherine Ferguson
      Academy, a public high school for teenage mothers, where under the
      leadership of principal Asenath Andrews and science teacher Paul
      Weertz, students are learning respect for life and for the earth by
      raising farm animals, planting a community garden and building a

      Across the street from the Catherine Ferguson Academy were a couple
      of abandoned houses that Detroit Summer bought for a few hundred
      dollars each and are now rehabbing for emergency use by CFA
      mothers. On the corner between the two houses we created an Art
      Park as a meeting and story-telling place for neighborhood
      residents. As a result, this neighborhood is coming back to life.
      A teacher has bought and renovated the abandoned house next to one
      of the Detroit Summer houses. A family down the street has fixed
      up their own house and bought one next door and another across the
      street and is rehabbing them for other family members.

      The mural painting program has given birth to a mural message
      movement. For the last eleven years Detroit Summer youth volunteers
      have been painting murals all over the city in consultation with
      neighborhood residents, some more memorable than others. To help
      expand the movement, the Boggs Center, in collaboration with the
      Department of Transformation of the Detroit Public Schools and the
      College of Creative Studies, co-sponsors Artists and Children
      Creating Community Together (AC3T), a program which involves
      elementary school children mentored by College of Creative Studies
      students, in producing drawings that are then transformed into giant

      AC3T murals now hang on the outside walls of three Detroit
      schools Cooper School on the east side, King School in northwest
      Detroit and Thirkell School on the near west side in a neighborhood
      known as Northwest Goldberg.

      The effect of the Thirkell School murals on the Northwest Goldberg
      neighborhood has been especially rewarding two longtime residents,
      Charles Simmons, who was in the League of Revolutionary Black
      Workers and now teaches Journalism as Eastern Michigan University,
      and Juanita Newton, retired teacher and veteran activist, had
      finally succeeded in getting the city to clean up a massive toxic
      waste site left behind by an abandoned factory.

      With the energy generated in the community by the Thirkell School
      murals, they were able to mobilize weekly clean-ups and other
      restorative activities last summer and fall, attracting volunteers
      from both inside and outside the community. These activities in turn
      inspired Simmon¹s journalism students to publish a neighborhood
      newsletter titled HUSH YOUR MOUTH.

      Meanwhile, Detroit Summer, which began as a four week summer
      program, is becoming year around with two new programs: Back Alley
      Bikes which teaches neighborhood youth to repair used bikes which
      then become theirs and a weekly Poetry for Social Change workshop.

      In the same Cass Corridor neighborhood, where our good friends,
      Jackie Victor and Ann Perrault, have already created the Avalon
      International Bakery which attracts people from all over the city,
      Asian American University of Michigan students, with the support and
      encouragement of local community Chinese Americans, are working to
      revitalize Chinatown as a way to promote cultural diversity in a
      city that has been too narrowly viewed as only black and white.
      Year round we also work with teachers creating school gardens to
      help their city-raised students understand that food doesn¹t come
      from the store and knowledge only from books or TV.

      One of the most exciting aspects of our work in Detroit is the
      synergy that has developed between the community and the
      university. An example of this is the Adamah vision created by
      students in the Architectural Department of the University of
      Detroit Mercy, under the leadership of visiting architect Kyong Park
      and department head Steve Vogel. Adamah, which means "of the
      earth" in Hebrew, is a vision for rebuilding a devastated 2-1/2
      square mile area on the east side of Detroit, near the Boggs

      The Adamah vision, based on urban agriculture and inspired by what
      was already going on in Detroit, includes unearthing Bloody Run
      Creek which had been covered over and absorbed into the city¹s sewer
      system around the turn of the century and turning it into a canal
      for both recreation and irrigation; greenhouses, grazing land and a
      dairy, a tree farm and lumber mill, a community center, community
      gardens, a shrimp farm and windmills to generate electricity and
      living and work spaces in the former Packard auto

      As people watch the 20 minute Adamah video you can almost feel their
      minds and imaginations expanding. Community residents draw from
      Adamah ideas for rebuilding their own neighborhoods. Out-of-towners
      start wondering how they can spend time in Detroit to help build
      the movement.

      A Dutch filmmaker is planning to come here this spring to begin
      shooting for a a documentary called "Two Cities" which will feature
      a Detroit re-emerging from capitalist collapse and a St. Petersburg
      trying to find its way out of communist collapse.

      As I witness and participate in this excitement and contrast our
      visionary efforts to rebuild Detroit with the multi-billion
      megaprojects of politicians and developers that involve casinos,
      giant stadia, gentrification and the 2006 Superbowl, I am
      saddened by their short-sightedness.

      On the other hand, I rejoice in the energy being unleashed in the
      community by our human scale programs that involve bringing the
      country back into the city and removing the walls between schools
      and communities, between generations and between ethnic groups; and
      I am confident just as in the early 20th century people came from
      around the world to marvel at the mass production lines pioneered by
      Henry Ford, in the 21st century they will be coming to marvel at
      the thriving neighborhoods that are the fruit of our visionary

      Some of the participants in these programs are here today. Will you
      please stand up.

      That is what revolutions are about . They are about creating a new
      society in the places and spaces left vacant by the disintegration
      of the old, about evolving to a higher humanity, not higher
      buildings, about Love of one another and of the Earth, not Hate;
      about Hope, not despair; about saying YES to Life and NO to War,
      about becoming the change we want to see in the world.

      My sense is that the same process is taking place at the grassroots
      level in other places around the world. I think, of the women in
      the village in India who sparked the Chipko movement by hugging
      the trees to keep them from being cut down by private contractors,.
      And I feel our kinship with the Zapatistas in Chiapas who
      announced to the world on January 1, 1994 that their development
      was going to be grounded in their own culture and not stunted by
      NAFTA¹s free market.

      We live in exciting times. We are building on the legacy of Gandhi
      and King which in this period requires that we redefine our
      relationship to the Earth and to each other. We invite you to join
      us, support us, or replicate us in your own communities. That is
      how movements are created. Something that people do in one place
      seems so right and just, for example, the sitdown of the Flint auto
      workers in 1937 or the sit-in of the four black students at the
      Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworths in 1960, that people in other
      places say "We can do that!" and the movement takes off. That is how
      I hope you will respond to what we¹re doing in Detroit.
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