There’s just something utterly captivating about hearing someone who’s nearly one hundred years young talk about life. Not just to talk about what they’ve seen or what parts of history they recall the most but just about living, about making a difference, about taking a stand. The tagline for Mel Gibson’s Braveheart was “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” The subject of Grace Lee’s, no relation, documentary American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs has truly lived and bless her heart she keeps on living and is still making a difference.
Grace Lee Boggs is a ninety-seven-year old Chinese American woman who has spent more than seventy years in the African American movement. She’s a writer, an activist and a philosopher who has popped up on news media shows to share her thoughts on current events like the election of Barack Obama. She still gives lectures about what it means to be a revolutionary and challenges people to really think things through and not simply be a lemming to circumstance. In one scene she makes a statement that draws applause from some people in the audience. She then tells those people to stop and rethink about what it is she just said. At ninety-seven the lady is a firecracker.
Grace Lee’s documentary serves as biography and ideology. She looks back at Boggs’ youth when she first became an activist and follows her from one social movement to the next. Boggs’ activism moved from labor to civil rights, to Black Power, feminism, the Asian American and environmental justice movements and beyond. Boggs discussions and comments about countless events and moments are fascinating, sometimes funny and always thought provoking. You really appreciate her dedication when she talks about her love for home the city of Detroit. As mentioned before she really loves to get people to think and that is quiet evident in a humorous exchange she has in her living room with actor Danny Glover. The two are going back and forth and then you relish that moment when you see she got him and love Glover even more for realizing it. She doesn’t solely talk to celebrities we also see her opening the minds of the youth in the neighborhood as well as affecting teenagers as one was very emotional when talking to her at a lecture. Boggs is puzzled and tickled pink by the fact that she is embraced by the young
This documentary is eye opening on many levels. It’s historical, educational, enlightening and topical. For anyone who has never had a clear understanding of just what a revolutionary is, beyond the typical violent protestor, seeing and listening to Boggs will open your eyes and feed your mind. Boggs epitomizes the ideal revolutionary not someone about violence but someone who wants to promote ideas, nurture expansive, imaginative thinking and conversation with one goal in mind, to propel societal change. It’s a solid film that showers adoration upon its subject but also opens the minds of those fortunate enough to see it and hear it.