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Inequality in the U.S. is now greater than in any industrialized nation.

Five percent of Americans own 59% of all wealth while the bottom 20% own zero wealth.



The Worst and Best of Times
By Grace Lee Boggs 


As we begin the New Year it is the worst of times.

*We are quagmired in a illegal war in which  over 600,000 Iraqis and nearly 3000 Americans have been slaughtered and hundreds of billions of dollars squandered  - while our  schools and infrastructures crumble and millions are unemployed or underemployed because  giant  corporations have outsourced our jobs to countries where they can make
more profit with cheaper labor.

*Our heedless pursuit of material and technological growth has created a planetary emergency. The ozone layer is being depleted, temperatures are rising,  polar ice caps are melting, fisheries collapsing, species vanishing.

*Inequality in the U.S. is now greater than in any industrialized nation. Five percent of Americans own 59% of all wealth while the bottom 20% own zero wealth.

*Under the guise of defense against terrorism, our government has violated the Geneva Convention and the U.S. Constitution, torturing detainees, suspending habeas corpus,  instituting warrant-less domestic spying.

*Our media is owned and controlled by huge multinational corporations who treat  the American people as consumers and  audience  rather than as active citizens.

*Our increasingly undemocratic and dysfunctional political system has saddled  us with a  President who has denied reality for so long that he can no longer distinguish between facts and his personal fantasies.


*Americans are creating new forms of community-based institutions (ESOPs, coops,  community development corporations,  etc.)  to give “we the people” ownership and control over the way we make our living.

*Entrepreneurs are creating businesses in which the health of the environment, the well-being of communities, the empowerment of employees are all part of the bottom line.

*Community and school gardens and farmers markets are springing up everywhere as growing numbers of Americans recognize the nutritional, ecological and  economic benefits of local food initiatives.

*State governments, Mayors and City Councils are assuming the responsibility, abdicated  by the federal government,  to reduce global warming pollutants through innovative conservation measures and utilization of clean, renewable sources of energy.

*Communities are asserting their right to self-government by repudiating the  concept of corporate personhood which has enabled giant corporations to override local decisions protecting health, safety, family farms and the environment.

*Dozens of Western Pennsylvania townships have banned corporate hog farms and the spreading of toxic sewage sludge on farmland; two have actually revoked corporate constitutional rights to override local decisions.

*Communities and counties in California have prohibited further incursions from chain restaurants, the planting of genetically engineered crops, and are exploring ordinances revoking corporate constitutional rights in their local jurisdiction.
*Voters in Northern California’s Humboldt Country have approved a ballot initiative that bans non-local corporate money in elections.

*Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin have all passed laws outlawing corporate ownership of farms.

*A movement to build a U.S. media that serves the needs of active citizens in a democracy is in the making,  spearheaded by veteran journalist Bill Moyers and a new generation of allied, independent media makers.

*In the 1999 “Battle of Seattle” tens of thousands of individuals and groups,  representing very diverse sections of society, closed down the WTO. Since then hundreds of thousands of individuals and groups from around the world have gathered at World Social Forums  to make clear  that “Another World is  possible.”

* In the  process of convening these global demonstrations and gatherings and in these local initiatives a new form of  Democracy is being created which is much more participatory, deliberative,  cooperative,  consensual,  more rooted in community and more horizontal   than the representative democracies that were struggled for and
achieved within 19th and 20th century nation-states.

In these and other imaginative ways Americans are beginning to build the movement to make the structural changes projected by Dr. Martin Luther King  40 years ago in “Time to Break the Silence” and “Where do we go from here: Community or Chaos? “

These changes, King explained, must take us beyond traditional Capitalism, which encourages cutthroat competition and selfish ambitions and inspires men to be more          I-centered than Thou-centered,  AND    Communism which reduces men to a cog in the
wheel of the state.

Everyone who cares about Democracy, Sustainability, Community and living a life of purpose and meaning can help build this new movement that is taking us beyond traditional Capitalism and Communism.

That’s why, this is not only the worst but also the best of times.

posted 28 December 2006

Grace Lee Boggs is an activist, writer, and speaker whose sixty years of political involvement encompass the major U.S. social movements of this century:  Labor, Civil Rights, Black Power, Asian American, Women's and Environmental Justice. Born in Providence, R.I. of Chinese immigrant parents in l915, Grace received her B.A. from Barnard College in l935 and her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Bryn Mawr College in l940.  

In the l940s and l950s she worked with West Indian Marxist historian C.L.R.James  and in l953 she came to Detroit where she married James Boggs,  African American labor activist, writer and strategist. Working together in grassroots groups and projects, they were partners for over 40 years until James' death in July l993.

Their book, Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century,  was published by Monthly Review Press in l974. In l992, with James Boggs and others, she founded DETROIT SUMMER, a multi-cultural, intergenerational youth program to rebuild, redefine and respirit Detroit from the ground up which completed its ninth season in June 2000.  Currently she is active in the Detroit Agricultural Network, the Committee for the Political Resurrection of Detroit, writes for the  weekly Michigan Citizen, and does a monthly commentary on WORT (Madison, Wisconsin). 

Her Living for Change: An Autobiography  published  by the University of Minnesota Press in March l998, now in its  second printing, is widely used in university classes on social movements and autobiography writing. --

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
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#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

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#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

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#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

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#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
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#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

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#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

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The Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered. Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong. —Jamie Byng, Guardian / Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)  / Gil Scott-Heron & His Music  Gil Scott Heron Blue Collar  Remember Gil Scott- Heron

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 2 February 2012




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