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Conclusion of the Opening Presentation
by Bob Avakian
Serious About Making an Actual Revolution
by Bob Avakian
The Dialogue audience was invited to write questions for the speakers. More than 200 questions were submitted. Here are two questions that Bob Avakian and Cornel West addressed—see more at "Questions from People."
"For many Black and Brown people who believe in Jesus Christ and rely on him for salvation, how do they square their religious faith, or can they square their religious faith, with a revolutionary mindset that does not look to heaven to fix problems on Earth, because many will not give up their God?"
"How in this world are we, the oppressed, to accomplish true revolution peacefully, when in reality, the powers-that-be have all the artillery to kill, while all we have are our voices and our fists? How do we compete? There's no 'win' in this picture for the oppressed, as I can see. Please shed some light on this."
More Key Pieces on the Dialogue:
Getting Ready for the Online Launch and Premiere Screenings of the new film of "Revolution and Religion..."
Making the Absolute Most Out of an Incredible Dialogue
What People Are Saying:
Below and to the right are comments about the Dialogue sent to revcom.us. See more comments at "What People Said at the Dialogue." Send comments and thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. While we cannot post all comments, all of them are appreciated and forwarded to the Dialogue organizers.
Cornel West and Bob Avakian came together and can work together and fight against injustice, mass genocide and racial profiling against young Black men. They have their differences, but they can work together. I joined the Black Panther Party in 1968. We used to patrol the police who were harassing people. I was with Bobby Hutton when he was murdered by the police. You still have exploitation and being discriminated against today. It's still going on. I saw the trailer for the film and I want to see the rest of the film.
Terry Cotton, Black Panther Alumni
“We Need a Way Out!”
A small group of women who were formerly homeless and had lived on “Skid Row” in LA came together to watch the Trailer and the new clip, “Why Are We Still Fighting For Justice in 2015?.” This area is where the LAPD recently murdered Africa, an unarmed Black man, captured on video and seen on YouTube by 7 million people in the day after the brutal, cowardly murder. Two of them had never seen the Dialogue, nor heard either of the speakers before. They huddled around a smart phone to watch the Trailer and the clip—and were captivated by what they heard. Afterward they said:
They are both telling the truth. People from Skid Row need to hear this. I want to see the whole thing... In Skid Row you feel so trapped. People think of people there as drug addicts, but most people there are just down on their luck. There’s professionals there, intellectuals, women escaping abuse, people come from all over the country because they think California is better, but end up on Skid Row. They are coming for a better life, but get treated like animals. How can people get out of this madness? You are in a hole and you keep trying to get out, but the system keeps dragging you down. We need a way out!” The women made plans to saturate Skid Row and the more gentrified nearby downtown area with postcards and posters for the Dialogue Film Premiere.
“People Were Feeling It.”
...People the system says are the worst of the worst can change and be part of this. If you don’t get that part you are missing a big part of what BA’s speech is about.
When BA talked about how the world could be different in the “What If...” part of the speech, almost everybody in that section was in tears, including me. People were feeling it.
(Former Prisoner Who Attended
Read entire comments
This was two people bringing their ‘A game’...
Challenge yourself, think about revolution, hear what two revolutionary thinkers are thinking in late 2014, what their thoughts are about revolution and building a post-capitalist society, and then challenge yourself to think you can get there any other way...
...Bob Avakian [is] probably familiar in talking about revolution and for taking the side of it, and you throw in religion, and obviously someone who’s a very declared atheist throughout his career, and then when religion is tossed on the table, along with revolution, it really becomes revolution and the condition of man. So there’s a deep philosophical component to this. And then the inverse of that is true. Cornel West having to respond in the same manner—deeply philosophically, but also the social critique and the vision of the future from Cornel West.
(Alan Minsky, Interim Program Director, KPFK Radio in Los Angeles)
(see full interview)
What I learned from the Dialogue is that we can change this whole damn system that’s guilty as hell. We certainly and most seriously need a revolution so our Black and Latino kids can rise up and be a part of our country instead of ending up dead or locked up because they are separating our families.
(Woman from Ferguson, Missouri who attended the Dialogue)
Right out of the gate, boom, BA went after religion! I thought, Oh no, he’s going to go there... I really respect him because he is not going to compromise, and I can see why Cornel really respects him, too. I can’t say I agree with all of what he says, but this guy is really honest.
“Prophetic elders with breadth, stature and conviction.”
It was great and very powerful. I want to highlight both of them, Cornel West and Bob Avakian. They were able to agree and disagree. They are both prophetic elders and I got a sense of their breadth and stature and conviction and how that all meshes with what’s happening, particularly to what’s happening in light of the nationwide protest that jumped off in the wake of Ferguson.
(Activist/Writer/Poet, after viewing the Trailer for the film)
One guy we met said that just talking about all the murders by police gets him angry, but that he would check out the revolution and donated $14. Then we showed him the trailer. Half-way through watching the trailer, he pulled out $40 and bought 2 tickets. He said that with all the divisions among the people, he was struck by the unity and level of discussion between CW and BA.
( BA Everywhere organizer on showing the Trailer on the street)
They [BA and Cornel West, at the Dialogue] said it’s always the Black people that get killed for no reason. What surprised me? Knowing that it’s always us—like my brother who was killed by police. You shoulda came because it gives you all the information about WHY most of our black people are getting killed for no reason.
(Twelve-year-old Black youth from Chicago who attended the Dialogue)
It was so beautiful how BA and Cornel West talked about the music in the 1960s. How BA got into the influence of the movements among the people that helped create different music, and how what is happening now in society can influence the culture too, like the people beginning to stand up in Ferguson inspired the J. Cole song. People think communism would be boring or stale—but why would it be? What people get enjoyment out of now mostly just sucks! In a new society you wouldn’t have your escapism, your ‘real housewives,’ this dumb shit and gossip that we get sucked into. But BA is funny! That Ussain Bolt stuff that BA said during the Dialogue, we were cracking up! You need to laugh, you need to have heart and soul.
(Artist who attended the Dialogue)
The Bus Ride Home—Filled with the Spirit of the Dialogue: “I wish life could be like this experience on this bus all the time...”
(Read full article)
“Science and a Game Plan for Revolution.” In the interview on revcom.us with Ardea Skybreak, who is a scientist, she is talking about BA, the revolutionary communist leader, as a scientist at the top of his field. This really means retraining how we think. We’re taught that science is just ‘chemistry’ and so on. I never would have considered becoming a ‘scientist.’ I missed that boat! But pushing myself to be a scientist now, has to do with how you look at the world and analyze it. This is a great thing about working with the Party [the Revolutionary Communist Party, which BA leads]. There’s a game plan for revolution, you work together and sum up what you accomplished and what people said. You’re learning from the standpoint of that game plan.
(Artist who attended the Dialogue)
“The role of today’s Democratic Party seems to be a stumbling point for some...”
I am overwhelmed by the scope of the problem, I am just coming to understand that my vote is not going to bring the change we need and that the current cast of characters is actually part of the problem, not the solution. My impressions reflect my point in a personal journey; I know that others in Riverside Church had their own experiences. I know that as time passes I will think of other points and consider other ideas. But the importance of this moment will always stay with me. Rather than being a single, isolated voter alone in a little booth I was one of hundreds, gathered from across the country, together to share questions, concerns, and ideas. Being together and sharing the possibilities is so much better than being alone and in the dark. That is probably the most important thing I took away from this experience.
(Woman who flew in to New York for the Dialogue, from a longer piece)
First Impressions of the PREMIERE of
the New Film of REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion;
A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN
A correspondence from Andy Zee, co-director of the film
April 6, 2015
“This film brought an awareness that we do need an actual change....” A young Latino brother echoed what was felt by audiences across the country who came to the March 28 premieres of the new film of the historic Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian that took place last November at Riverside Church in New York City. Wherever you were coming from, whatever experience you have had with what this system does to people every day, whether this was your first encounter with the revolution or you’ve been fighting to get rid of this system your whole life, you came away from seeing REVOLUTION AND RELIGION feeling this brother’s sentiment.
In this correspondence, I am going to share some of my own and others’ first impressions. I urge everyone to watch, dig into, promote, and raise funds so that many more can experience and be moved by what Bob Avakian and Cornel West did on November 15, 2014.
Seeing the film on the big screen was special. Look, there was nothing like the excitement of being at Riverside with 1,900 people “live,” experiencing Bob Avakian and Cornel West together on this topic—I won’t ever forget it—being a part of something really historic.
Yet, watching this on film is just a different experience: profound and provocative. I found myself drawn deeply into their insights, their arguments, how they related to each other and engaged and struggled with the audience, the different methods by which they analyzed and approached big questions. I found myself learning more and anew. The film brings you up close inside Cornel West’s and Bob Avakian’s presentations and exchange: the passion, the audacity, the science, the morality, the revolutionary substance. Two courageous voices modeling a morality that refuses to accept injustice—pouring heart and soul into standing together challenging all of us to fight for a world worthy of humanity.
I attended the New York City premiere at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. It was fitting that this film was welcomed and debuted at this beautiful institution that resonates with the history of Black people. Watching the film on the big screen at the Schomburg—a screen that must be 40 feet across and 20 feet high with big, rich sound—was new for me after months of being a part of editing the film on small monitors!
BA and Cornel West really are two courageous moral voices of this moment. They hold and fill the big screen. The topic, Revolution and Religion, is huge: The fight for the emancipation of humanity and, in that context, looking at religion, which holds sway over much of humanity, especially the oppressed of the world, is an urgent question that demands and holds attention. But the dynamism and passion of both BA and CW, their humor and substance, their concern and struggle for the future of humanity, amplify and resonate in a special way through the film. Whether watching in a dark theater or up close on computer, TV, or smartphone, the film brings you into a personal experience with “Cornel and Bob,” so much so that afterward people who had never met either of them came up to me speaking of them by their first names as if they were life-long friends!
Watching clips from the film