Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Grace Lee Boggs on Barack Obama - and Us

Today on Democracy Now, Amy Goodman interviewed Grace Lee Boggs, the 92-year old political activist and community organizer.

Ms. Boggs spoke of the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King - which, 40 years after his assassination, are strikingly pertinent in this time of war, eroding civil liberties, and impending economic crisis.

Ms. Boggs sees promise in the candidacy of Barack Obama. But on her web site (, she warns against too much faith in leaders in our political system, infested as it is with corporate dollars. She writes:

The new energies being unleashed by Barack Obama hold great promise. In his person and prose Obama embodies the achievements of the movements of the 20th century and the hope that we can become the change we want to see in the 21st century.

To build the movement for change will not be easy. The challenges we face demand profound changes not only in our institutions but in ourselves. To become part of the solution, we must recognize that we are a large part of the problem.

That means we can't leave it all to Obama. Instead of being followers of a charasmatic leader, we must be the leaders we've been looking for. This is the best way to make Obama less vulnerable to corporate funders and lobbyists.

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We have to create the momentum for these changes at the grassroots level. Instead of being seduced by Wal-Mart's low prices, refusing to acknowledge that these bargains exist because multi-national corporations outsource U.S. jobs to Chinese sweatshops, we need to create local sustainable economies that not only reduce carbon emissions, but provide more opportunities for our young people to be of use. Instead of viewing success in terms of more consumer goods, we need to devise more ways to live simply and cooperatively, thereby not only making it possible for more people to simply live, but also discovering positive and even joyful ways to grapple with our own increasing economic hardships.

Obama can become a great president only if we become a great people. We must grow together.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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