Revolution #271, June 10, 2012
Taking Out the Bus Tour and BAsics 1:13
Around the Country
The BAsics Bus Tour through the South in May captivated the attention of people around the country, who followed the tour closely and took part in supporting it in various ways, including donating funds and giving support statements. Hundreds signed banners with the BAsics 1:13 quote from BA, a focal point of the tour (see the collage of the banners, which was delivered by the bus tour to people in Sanford).
On Memorial Day weekend, people in different cities organized picnics—or went out to where masses were picnicking—to build support for the bus tour and spread BAsics 1:13. A fundraising picnic in East Oakland, for example, involved 60 people, including 40 from two neighborhoods of oppressed people nearby. Along with a report-back from the tour, a highlight of the day was the reading of BAsics 1:13 by a Black man and woman and a junior high “shorty.” A young man, a member of the People’s Neighborhood Patrol, then did a “call-and-respond” with the quote in Spanish. Go to basicsbustour.tumblr.com for snapshots from different cities.
The following are excerpts from a letter from one city on experience taking out a banner with the BAsics 1:13 quote to a couple of Black neighborhoods.
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We got many signatures [on the banner], though this was not the main thing we emphasized; we put more attention to soliciting statements. We discovered that this simple form was able to unleash a lot of deeper thinking from the masses, and it was a good way to invite people into the movement for revolution that we are building.
We had done political work in these ’hoods before, though we didn’t go back to these areas in the last year or so until most recently. People we met told us that they had missed us and were glad to see that the revolution is back.
During the course of taking out the banner, we also made some adjustments in our approach. Instead of keeping agitating while waiting for people’s response, we would take an approach of letting things unfold. While sometimes we would read out loud the quote from BA, a lot of times we would let people read it and allow time for the quote to “sink in,” so to speak. Then we would ask what they feel about the quote. As for the bus tour, we took the same approach: after we told people briefly about the bus that was spreading revolution and communism developed by our leader BA and that the bus was going to the South, the “lynching belt” (after the trip to Sanford was announced, we would add that it was going to Sanford where Trayvon Martin was killed), we would let that sink in, and then ask what people think about that. This often brought out speaking bitterness and higher aspirations. Again, this has revealed the tremendous potential that the bus tour and the quote by BA can tap in terms of unleashing the masses.
We made another adjustment in our approach after we found out that sometimes people who had a lot of good, bold things to say “froze” when they started writing. This might be due to literacy problems or it might be due to the fact that they are not used to transferring what they would say into writing. For example, we encountered one guy who was saying a lot of encouragement to the bus tour ended up only writing “world peace” when he put the marker down. That was why after a few tries, instead of having people immediately write down what they think (after giving them time to first think about it), we would ask them to say it out first, and we took that down in a notebook.
Was there struggle and engagement in this process? Yes, there was. I remember a middle-aged Black woman who was very talkative, encountered in front of a Walmart. After hearing that the bus was going to the South, she started telling us that she was from Florida and how repressive the place was. We challenged her back that all these terrible things must stop by making revolution and this bus tour is indeed a beginning to change all this through spreading revolution and communism and by fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution, with the fight against the killing of Trayvon Martin being the case in point. This made her think again, kind of breaking the “permanent necessity” in her mind, at least for that moment. She ended up writing on the banner “Make the change happen. A temporary solution to a permanent problem? No! Just do it!” There were other experiences similar to this—after engaging with us about what the bus tour was going to do, people’s aspirations would start to soar. But it took some struggle.
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