1915-2015: Grace Lee Boggs

An Icon of American Civil Rights Activism Was Born in Providence, the Daughter of Chinese Immigrants

Grace Lee Boggs was an activist for equality and labor justice, working with her husband James Boggs in Detroit, and reached a global community with their campaign for workers' rights and understanding across racial and ethnic boundaries.

Boggs was born over her father's Westminster Street Chinese restaurant, Chin Lee, in 1915. Her father had immigrated from China, first to the West Coast and finally to Providence, where he became a successful restaurant entrepreneur, connected to the Chinese commercial community in Rhode Island and in his home country. The family lived on Somerset Street in South Providence for a number of years before moving to New York City, where another Chin Lee Restaurant was opened. Despite the family's financial success, young Grace felt the sting of racism and sexism growing up.

Grace attended Barnard College and received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Bryn Mawr. She lived and worked as a labor and civil rights activist in Chicago, New York, and finally Detroit, where she met and married auto worker and labor leader James Boggs. Her life was spent advocating for workers rights, critiquing the capitalist economic system, and working for interracial and cultural understanding. Grace died in 2015 in Detroit.



27 Somerset St., Providence, RI 02907