Revolution #278, August 19, 2012
Scenes from BA Everywhere
Week of August 13
This is a regular feature that gives an ongoing picture of the multifaceted campaign BA Everywhere, and the variety of ways that funds are being raised and the whole BA vision and framework brought into all corners of society. Revolution newspaper is at the hub of this effort, publishing reports from the campaign, and playing a pivotal role in building an organized network of people across the country coming together to make BA a household word. We urge our readers to send in timely correspondence and photos on what you are doing as part of this campaign to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bud Billiken Parade
On Saturday, August 11, tens of thousands of Black people at Chicago’s Bud Billiken back-to-school parade, the largest African-American parade in the U.S., were introduced to this revolution and Bob Avakian through a dynamic contingent that came together around the BAsics quote 1:13—“No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that.”
The response from the crowd was electric. People’s faces lit up and there were cheers, applause and some raised fists as they read the six-foot signs with BA’s “no more generations” quote, many people reached out for cards and took extra to distribute in the crowd or to take home to spread to their neighborhoods. People in the crowd joined in on the chants “When the revolution comes” and “We say no more.” One young woman was so inspired by the contingent that she repeatedly tried to scale the fence to join, and only gave up when the police stopped her.
The enlarged cover of Revolution newspaper with the picture of Trayvon Martin also struck a deep chord. At one spot along the route where the bystanders were mostly youth, the crowd began chanting “Trayvon Martin, Trayvon Martin.”
When the contingent passed the press reviewing stand, the announcer read the whole of the poster of 1:13 to the crowd, including “Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party,” and then read the words on the banner: “BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian.”
The contingent was made up of people of all ages and many different nationalities. Some of the people are building this movement for revolution, both veterans of this movement and a number of younger people newly coming into it; some want to be part of developing Revolution Clubs; some are part of the fight against police brutality and murder; and others are fed up with the status quo and are dreaming of a better world and really wanted to take out the message of 1:13 to thousands of people who are brutalized and oppressed on a daily basis by this system. 5,000 BAsics 1:13 palm cards got out.
People contributed in many different ways. One person, who has been part of actively taking out BA Everywhere, made a very important contribution by spending the whole day in her Revolution T-shirt raising money selling refreshments at the Revolution tent to long lines of people who all got the 1:13 palm card. Another person postered the route before, during, and after the parade. A videographer documented the contingent. Others developed chants.
The energy of the crowd fed back into the contingent, and the enthusiasm of the marchers stayed high throughout the two-mile march. Most of the contingent gathered under the Revolution tent for two hours after the parade was over to wrangle over the importance of the day and what they learned and how to build on this. This crowd attracted other people who wanted to know more of what this was about. One young woman said she was really struck by the impact of this message on the crowd, and this gave her a picture of the broad openness to revolution that she had not gotten previously from just talking to her friends and family. She said we have to do more of this, get this message out there, and bring people into the movement for revolution.
Yard Sale at a Progressive Bookstore
A progressive bookstore in a changing neighborhood of the city where lots of artists live and show their works dug the idea of doing a BAsics Bus Tour yard sale to raise money for the New York leg of the tour. They put lots of materials from basicsbustour.tumblr.com on their website, inviting people to the garage sale. Lots of people brought things to sell, more than we could sell there. It was hot and slow, not a lot of traffic, but people working the sale were determined to stick with it and raise hundreds of dollars.
As people came up to check out the sale, we gave them palm cards and told some of them about BA, his leadership and the new synthesis. One young woman said, “He sounds like a real leader.” By the end of the day, $670 was collected. People felt it was a victory given the heat and the fairly slow periods, an important day for the BAsics Bus Tour.
July Fundraising Projects
During the month of July we held a couple of small fundraisers for the BAsics Bus Tour. Each of the projects mobilized people in different ways and as a result we were able to raise more than $1,200 as well as spread word about the bus tour and BAsics both more deeply and more broadly. Here’s a description of the projects.
“Beads for BAsics”: Revolution Books put out a broad call on its e-list asking people to drop off their old jewelry at the store and supporters asked their co-workers to bring in their jewelry as well. Within days there was a sackful. Sorting the jewelry turned out to be a lot of fun. A few pieces looked valuable and were brought to an appraiser, who bought two pieces. An attractive table display for the jewelry was put together, and the owner of a small boutique gave permission to sell the jewelry on the sidewalk in front of her store. A display of BAsics, palm cards, and a leaflet about the bus tour was set up beside the display.
A lot of people stopped to check out the jewelry and were happy to find inexpensive gifts, but what happened was far more than just selling jewelry. A woman with two young daughters carefully read the BAsics 1:13 palm card and then told about being abused by her husband and escaping to a shelter. She liked the quote, was inspired by the bus tour, and bought a glittery bracelet for each of her delighted children. A couple stopped to look at the jewelry, but when the husband saw that the sale was a benefit to spread BA Everywhere, he grabbed his wife’s arm, whispered “communists,” and pulled her to a nearby bus stop. After sitting down for a few minutes, she got up and purposefully walked over to the table and bought several items. Another man stopped to look, but when he saw the word “communist” he asked antagonistically: “What’s so great about communism?” We said we’d be happy to explain why we thought communism was great, but we wanted him to tell us why capitalism was so great first. He stopped for a minute, looked chagrined, and then said capitalism was a failure. A long discussion followed and he ended up buying a pin for his mom, some earrings for his nieces, and then thanked us and made an additional donation for the tour. He showed up at Revolution Books that afternoon, and his mom came to hear a talk by Ann Wright on the drone war at the bookstore the following day.
“Beads for BAsics” turned out to be a bigger success than we had dared hope for. We raised about $750, while at the same time spreading word about the BAsics Bus Tour—and had fun doing it.
Mango Chutney and Mango Bread Sale: Some of us had read about the sale of tamales in another area and asked ourselves what we could make. One woman had a mango tree that was producing a bumper crop of mangos and put out a call to her co-workers to make mango chutney and mango bread to raise money for the BAsics Bus Tour. Small teams, each with different people participating, got together to can the chutney and bake the bread. Most really didn’t know much about the BAsics Bus Tour, but knew it was a “good thing” and wanted to help out. While cooking they got a chance to talk about the tour, look at basicsbustour.tumblr.com and watch some videos. In fact, the cooking sessions were so popular that friends of those who did it were still asking for a chance to join up even as the mango season had ended. More than $450 was raised from the sale of the bread and chutney, and everyone who bought received materials about the tour. The people who participated didn’t have much money to contribute, but were really proud of the contribution they had made.
Plant Sale: A supporter put together small hanging planters made from air plants growing in her yard and primarily sold them to her co-workers. The cost was minimal. She raised about $100 and was able to spread word about the bus tour while doing it.
At the Downtown Art Walk
Excerpts from a correspondence from a high school student:
A group of us decided to venture out to downtown art walk. We brought our enthusiasm, posters that read things like “Ask Us Why Porn Fuels Rape” and “Stop the War on Women.” We also had the August BAsics quote on revolution and women’s oppression to pass out.
For that night, we arranged a street theater skit comparing two different forms of women’s oppression: “Westernized Raunchy ‘Thong’ Culture vs. Middle Eastern ‘Burka’ Culture.” The skit did appear to have a direct effect bringing in people who were curious or had questions. A few Occupy protesters showed up saying that they were just having a discussion on patriarchy because one of their people was assaulted at a downtown park. They welcomed us to do our skit. We agreed that we should and off we went. Raising attention with our blaring whistles, we drew in a crowd of interested spectators to watch. It had a remarkable effect. People took pictures, smiled, gawked, and watched. Both men and women approached and struck up conversations.
I walked away that night in wonder at the effect this movement could have throughout this country and the world. I mean, we are talking about half of humanity. As Bob Avakian says, “The fury of women can and must be fully unleashed as a mighty force for proletarian revolution.”
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