Revolution #244, August 28, 2011

BAsics at the Festival

Posted Thursday, August 25, 2011

Revolution received the following correspondence about taking out BAsics:

We took BAsics out to a two-day music and arts festival. As in years past, it drew 1,000's of people of all nationalities, including many Black people.

We had a good impact on the event—the word about BAsics got out to 1,000's. Our booth stood out with displays on BAsics, the quote from BA on 3 Strikes, a NO MORE poster on police brutality with Oscar Grant and Aiyana Jones, drawing attention. We had two tables, one featuring Revolution newspaper and statements and books, most prominently BAsics. We sold over 15 copies of BAsics, as well as the Constitution For The New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) and newspapers, and got out 2,000 postcards with the BA quotes on slavery and women's oppression.

The 3 Strikes quote by BA drew the attention of quite a few who stood and read it, and elicited some heart-felt comments from people on their experiences w/national oppression. One woman from Louisiana said her great-grandma had been a slave and had been the mistress of the slave owner. Because of this, the slave owner gave them the burial plot where her relatives are now buried. She talked about how racist this society is and of an experience her family had in being discriminated against in Arizona. When they went to a large hotel to check in, they were told there were no vacancies.

A Black man had grown up in Arizona where his relatives had moved from Louisiana to get jobs as loggers. At one point there was a town where 50,000 Black people lived until the logging work was finished and the whole town was shut down. He spoke of the oppression that he's seen, such as in Las Vegas where it was so racist that his family was afraid to get out of their cars. The question of Black people's oppression and how BAsics speaks to it strikes a deep chord and interests people in what BA has to say. For instance, on hearing the first quote from BAsics about slavery, many people agreed it's true. Many said they'd check it out on-line or asked if they could buy it on-line.

We met some students and others who said they wanted to join with us to "wake and shake up the campus." One Black man who we just met on Saturday joined us at the festival on Sunday. He got out the postcards and said revolution was needed yesterday. Another Black man bought BAsics on Saturday, read some of it and said, "You want the truth, you need the BAsics. It's very informative, enlightening and appealing. Do we need a revolution? It's overdue. I love it."

There were really interesting people we met; people of different nationalities and ages bought BAsics. Questions came up about are you kidding? Revolution here? Questions about spirituality, changing yourself, and what kind of revolution were we talking about. We got into discussions about how things could change. Some agreed that the upsurge in London showed how things could change. One white man said he was a communist, but most people aren't into this, maybe he could see a revolution in 100 years, so he bought BAsics because he thought he should know what it says.

The last year has been one of "stirrings of unrest and change in the world" and a "time of churning" as the Revolution article says in, "Ready…Set.. BAsics Plan to Shake Up and Wake Up the Campus." One thing we learned is that people seem more willing to get involved. At this festival, we invited people to come to a discussion at Revolution Books a few days later to talk about “Waking up and shaking up the campus.” The morning of the event, we called people and several new people came; one person had started reading BAsics, found it interesting and had many questions.

BAsics at the University

On Monday, August 22, the first day of the push to "Wake Up and Shake Up the Campus," freshmen at the big university in our city were introduced to Bob Avakian as they walked onto campus the first day of freshman week. Although the special issue of Revolution newspaper was not yet available, we didn't want to miss this opportunity. Postcards with quotes from BAsics on slavery and the oppression of women were taken up by hundreds.

Then, that afternoon, a Freshman Convocation was held where students were addressed by the Chancellor. Thousands streamed into the theater, many coming in groups of friends. Waves of students came by and were greeted by revolutionaries with BAsics cards and books. Again they were introduced to Bob Avakian and BAsics. The Revolution Club in this city greeted people: "Here's a handbook for revolution." "This is the most important book you could read while you're at this school." "Join with the movement for revolution," "You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics." Students were grabbing the cards out of our hands, we could hardly keep up with the number of people. Soon a group of Chinese students came up to our table. First, one said he wanted to get a book. Then both of his other friends wanted one too. They were all from China and were excited to find revolutionaries here. They gave us their names and wanted to be contacted. Later a white student said he had heard about BAsics at the LA Rising concert. He too bought BAsics and his friends signed up to get contacted.

The next day, we had the beautiful special issue of Revolution newspaper on BAsics and set up our table again, this time with a paper banner with quote 1:1: "There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth." We asked people to write their comments. Some were very much in agreement with the statement. Another said that both communism and capitalism had failed and we needed another way. That student was challenged: If that is what you think, you really need to read this book, to get to know Bob Avakian.

Later out on the street nearby a group of anarchist youth stopped to check out the newspaper and BAsics. One of them, after reading Chapter 3 of BAsics (MAKING REVOLUTION) for 20 minutes said people "need to read this book. It shows how revolution is possible."

At Revolution Books Tuesday a Black student came by. He had already bought a copy of BAsics. He was invited to join us for the discussion on the special issue of BAsics and to be part of taking this issue and the book out to the campus. He couldn’t stay for the discussion but, he agreed right away to take a bundle of 100 newspapers to distribute in his dorm and to people in student groups and students in his classes. Several other new students stopped by Revolution Books that day to check out the bookstore, the newspaper and BAsics. They were invited to be a part in any way they could, even if they had only an hour. A poetry contest based on quotes from BAsics was intriguing to some young poets.

Several other people we had just met also came to the store Tuesday night, some because we called them right away after meeting them. We sat in a circle and took turns reading all the quotes from BAsics in the new special issue of Revolution. It was really fun—and moving—to hear how each person—including some people who had met us and come to the store for the first time—read and related to a particular quote. We also read quotes from "What people are saying about BAsics," and then "Get In...Get Out...Get Connected," and "Bob Avakian—Leadership for a New Stage of Communist Revolution." It underscored the point made in Revolution #243: "let BAsics, its quotes, its essays and the book as a whole, speak for itself."

After hearing all the quotes read, a Black woman who was at the store for the first time remarked, "Well, I think I may be a communist. I don't know much about it and I'm kind of scared, too." Another Black woman in her 30s from also came by. She told personal stories of police murdering her brother and cousin and about how hopeless and frustrated so many of the youth in her neighborhood feel. She said these youth need this newspaper and BAsics. BAsics, she said, provides a foundation for people who want to get out of this horror they live in. If youth had the guidance given in BAsics, they would know what to do with their frustration and pain. It is important for them to know there is hope. It is important that people read this book.

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