Revolution #268, May 13, 2012
Imagine the Difference it Could Make
BA Everywhere is a campaign aimed at raising big money to project Bob Avakian’s voice and works throughout society—to make BA a household word. The campaign is reaching out to those who are deeply discontented with what is going on in the world, and stirring up discussion and debate about the problem and solution. It is challenging the conventional wisdom that this capitalist system is the best humanity can do—and bringing to life the reality that with the new synthesis of communism brought forward by BA, there is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the leadership that is needed for the struggle toward that goal.
Success in this campaign can bring about a radical and fundamental change in the social and political atmosphere by bringing the whole BA vision and framework into all corners of society where it does not yet exist, or is still too little known, and getting all sorts of people to engage and wrestle with it.
BA Everywhere is a multi-faceted campaign, involving different key initiatives and punctuation points, at the same time sinking roots among all sections of the people and reaching out broadly in myriad creative ways. Revolution newspaper is where everyone can find out what’s going on with all this: reports on what people are doing, upcoming plans, important editorials, etc. We call on readers to send us timely correspondence on what you are doing to raise money for BA Everywhere, why people are contributing, and what they are saying.
Scenes from BA Everywhere
From the “Four Defiant Days,” April 28-May 1
“Scenes from BA Everywhere” is a weekly feature that gives our readers an ongoing picture of this multifaceted campaign, and the variety of ways that funds are being raised and the whole BA vision and framework is being brought into all corners of society. Revolution newspaper is at the hub of the BA Everywhere effort—publishing reports from those taking up the campaign. Revolution plays a pivotal role in building an organized network of people across the country coming together to make BA a household word. We urge all our readers to send us timely correspondence on what you are doing as part of this campaign. This week, we’ve excerpted from correspondence we’ve received about the four defiant days, April 28-May 1, when people around the country made concentrated efforts in the BA Everywhere campaign and in fighting for, promoting, and celebrating revolution, a whole new and far better world... and the vision, strategy, and revolutionary communist leadership we have to get there. (See "May Day 2012: Occupy Steps Out Across the Country" for reports on May 1.)
In the Streets in Harlem
In Harlem on Saturday, April 28, the march with the image of BA at the front could be seen and heard from half a block away. Women in a beauty shop got up and went to the door to watch. One sister there, who was going to sing in the program at the revolutionary May Day celebration the next day, explained to the women around her that this was the revolution crew coming through.
At the street corners the revolutionaries fanned out, selling papers, raising money for the BAsics Bus Tour, getting fliers out to everyone about the May Day celebration and the internationalist contingent on May 1. The May Day truck paralleled the march, decorated with BAsics banners and huge enlargements of the front page of the May Day issue of Revolution newspaper. Readings, agitation, and audio clips from Bob Avakian’s Revolution talk played on the corners where the revolutionaries held mini-rallies.
As the procession approached, a homeless man announced in an excited voice to the people around him, “It’s the Revolutionary Communist Party,” and stretched out his arm in a welcoming gesture. One man just out of prison bought a BA button after hearing about Bob Avakian for the first time. Others knew something about BA: “That’s the revolution man.”
The day started off in Washington Heights, where a lot of people are from the Dominican Republic. One man who bought Lo BAsico told of participating in the street fighting in Santo Domingo as a child against the U.S. troops who invaded the island in 1965. He said, “After that the leaders were killed and the movement dispersed ... most of them came over here and I’m one of them. That’s why I know there can be a revolution in this country, because there’s people like me walking around everywhere.” He learned on Saturday about the leadership for this revolution in BA.
Throughout the day people were challenged to become part of the movement for revolution and began to do that. More than 250 got copies of Revolution newspaper, several people got BAsics, and many contributed to the bus tour, from change up to $20. One woman in a nearby project opened her kitchen and helped prepare the lunch for the May Day crew and was deeply pleased to be “part of a team” that was working together.
On Sunday, the May Day celebration was held in a popular Harlem park. A battle to get the permit for the celebration in this park had involved local ministers, people from the projects and others who called the Parks Department to insist that this celebration needed to go forward (the permit was won). At the celebration were people from the neighborhood, around the city, and around the world. An internationalist feast was contributed by a number of restaurants and supporters of the movement for revolution.
The bilingual English-Spanish celebration conveyed the open arms of BA’s “An Invitation” to go on a journey together to change the world (online at revcom.us), and the young MC’s brought the audience with them on the beginning of that journey. One young man was inspired to write a poem on the spot about rejecting the nationalism he used to “carry in his back pocket” and how he now was “wrapped in the warm flag of humanity.” Periodically throughout the program young children “driving” a replica BAsics bus crossed the stage yelling “Get on the bus!” Among the cultural performances was a professional actor’s dramatic and heartfelt reading of letters from prisoners about the impact that BAsics has had on their lives.
At a halfway point in the program, an “organizing intermission” encouraged people to get connected and participate, and to get tickets for a raffle to raise money for the bus tour, with amazing prizes donated by many people and organizations. The next-to-last musical piece brought a Harlem artist onstage to sing Nina Simone’s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” with volunteers on the stage carrying placards of young people amid the world’s horrors, put together by a high school student. A dramatic reading of BAsics 1:13 (“No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over...”) brought home the hope for revolution. Finally, the program participants together with members of the audience joined on stage to dance to the Outernational song, “Que tenemos? Nada!” Que queremos? Todo el mundo.”
Caravan Through Oakland
On April 28, a crew of 20+ revolutionaries and supporters spent the day spreading revolution and the BA Everywhere campaign among the basic people in Oakland and East Oakland. We began the day with a lively car caravan through downtown Oakland that wound its way south to the predominantly Latino Fruitvale District. It was led by a 20-foot-long flatbed truck with 3- by 4-foot enlargements of the covers of BAsics and Lo BAsico on either side, as well as BA’s quotes (“Internationalism—the whole world comes first” and “American lives are not more important than other peoples lives”) and a call for people to join the May Day contingent. Following the truck were a half-dozen cars with red flags and copies of Revolution newspaper waving out the window. The caravan definitely turned heads—and provoked smiles, peace signs, fists and honking horns.
In the Fruitvale neighborhood, teams with Revolution, BAsics/Lo BAsico, leaflets, and cans for donations went down either side of International Boulevard as the sound truck drove up and down the street. After that, we spent the rest of the afternoon outside Walmart (with one crew going to 71st and International, where we had held anti-mass incarceration and police brutality rallies). We used BAsics 1:14 and 1:31 a lot. After reading quote 1:14, a Mexican man said, “I’d never thought of it that way—but that’s what they did to us in Mexico.” He got a copy of Revolution and gave $10 to the tour. A Black woman who had known the Panthers “back in the day” spent over 20 minutes reading through BAsics and said, “He really breaks things down.” At the end of the day we summed up that very few people, even here in the Bay Area, knew about BA and that it would make a tremendous difference if they did. This is something we can—and must—change.
While we were at Walmart, the Occubus with 10 or so Occupy activists pulled up to leaflet for the May Day protest in Oakland. It was quite a scene—the communists, Occupy activists, as well as people hawking comedy CD’s and party tours all in front of Walmart. One of the Occupy folks had been tweeting pictures and comments on our sound truck. She tweeted us: “I fucking love your #M1GS [May First General Strike] truck! The sound was awesome!! We ran into your truck earlier today at Walmart! check my tweets:)”
The next day, there was a lively party in downtown Oakland to raise money for the BAsics Bus Tour, with a DJ, a jazz band, and food provided by various individuals and restaurants. The program featured a short video from the pilot BAsics Bus Tour in California in February, narrated by one of the volunteers on the tour. More than $1,000 was raised, with pledges for $1,000 more.
LA Black and Latino Neighborhood
The four-day BA Everywhere May Day weekend was kicked off with a sound truck rolling through a Black and Latino neighborhood where there has been outrage and protest in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin, and where the revolutionaries have been in the mix. “All Played Out” from Bob Avakian poured out of the sound system and banners on the side of the truck included “It’s Right to Rebel Against Injustice!” announcing the night of culture to raise money for BA Everywhere taking place the next evening, on the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles Rebellion. People on the street stopped to talk, some came out of their apartments to see what this was about, and at some buildings we knocked on doors. Our main focus was raising money and selling tickets to the fundraiser for the next evening. Many people who donated were inspired by the vision of the BAsics bus filled with revolutionaries launching from Atlanta, heading into that area of the country bringing revolutionary leadership and the vision of a new world. And even though people mainly had not heard of Bob Avakian before, they were also moved to donate because of the quotes from him in the special issue of Revolution newspaper, and in particular lifting their sights to “the whole world comes first.” One young guy who donated started off giving $2 he had in his pocket. After he went through the pages of the newspaper and read about fighting for a whole new world, we challenged him, and he did decide to donate some more.
Celebrating the LA Rebellion, Raising Funds for BA Everywhere
On the evening of April 29, Revolution Books hosted a dinner and evening of culture at a local club to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the LA Rebellion, as a fundraiser for the BA Everywhere campaign and the BAsics Bus Tour. (Earlier that day, Revolution Books hosted a panel discussion on the LA Rebellion, with Michael Slate, contributor to Revolution and host of The Michael Slate Show on KPFK in Los Angeles; Erin Aubry Kaplan, LA-based journalist and author; and Frank Stoltze, former news director at KPFK and current news reporter at KPCC radio.) The band Outernational delivered an inspiring unplugged set to open things up. Leon Mobley and Da Lion, an African percussion ensemble, set the night on fire with a ferociously energetic set that grabbed people by their rhythm bone and didn’t let go for 45 minutes. Leon Mobley also announced that he was contributing one of his signature Remo Djembe drums to raise money for the BA Everywhere campaign. When his set was finished, Leon was soaked in sweat and deeply inspired by what he described as the revolutionary vibe of the night. As people talked with the musicians after the performances, there was a lively exchange of stories about how they found the revolution. Youth who went on the California BAsics Bus Tour pilot project spoke about their experience and gave a fund pitch for the bus tour that will be taking off from Atlanta in a few weeks.
Sights and Sounds in Chicago
We started Saturday by heading to the heart of the Westside to a busy shopping area, in a neighborhood where the police have been shooting and murdering Black people in record numbers. Our car caravan had a lead truck with three gorgeous color banners with the BAsics and the Revolution newspaper logo. Playing from a loudspeaker was “All Played Out,” BA’s spoken word piece with music by jazz musician William Parker. At different points during the day, from barbershops and street corners, you would see people catch the beat and come up to the caravan, looking to learn what this was all about. We then went to Hyde Park and the University of Chicago area, and to the Woodlawn Mental Health Center, one of six mental health clinics that the city has closed down. Dozens of mental health advocates and clinic users occupied the clinic, and then put up a tent city in the vacant lot across the street after being forced out of the clinic. The next day, Sunday, a multinational group of some 60 people came together for the dinner to celebrate May Day and raised $1,400 for the BAsics Bus Tour. People relaxed, shared experiences, watched clips from BA’s Revolution talk, and discussed big questions of the day, while enjoying a feast of donated dishes.
A Successful Fundraising Potluck
Longtime supporters and some people new to the movement for revolution contributed greatly to the success of our fundraising potluck on Sunday, April 29—from providing the space, to compiling the evening’s music, to the cooking of many delicious dishes and selling tickets. People we have recently met in the battle to demand justice for Trayvon Martin and the struggle against mass incarceration, joined this effort. Several people bought tickets to support the BA Everywhere campaign and several others attended the dinner. A young woman who participated in the April 10 Day of Outrage and has taken several bundles of Revolution newspaper to distribute to friends and family made a colorful poster for the event, featuring the Earth and the slogan “Internationalism—the Whole World Comes First.” She was especially impacted by the video “Next Stop—Revolution” shown at the gathering, and the many young people in that documentary who spoke from their own experience of the need for a whole different world. She said that she wants to show it to her friends in the neighborhood, to bring them into this movement. A student who is confronting all that the system imposes on young Black men was challenged that this is NOT the only world possible, and BA’s leadership has a lot to do with bringing a new set of possibilities into play for humanity. He left with a copy of the RCP’s “On the Strategy for Revolution” to read and share with his friends.
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