From the Revolution Club Chicago:

Not a Summer of Bloodshed, a Summer of Emancipation:
What Happened at a Future People Open Mic

June 5, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


All afternoon on the day of the open mic, Friday, June 2, we blasted music on the sidewalk in front of the Revolution Club organizing center, challenging people to be a part of making this summer RADICALLY different, of emancipation, and calling on them to work on that now at the open mic in creating a “culture of revolt against this revolting culture” in a night of music, dance, art, and getting down on the way out of this long nightmare of a society: to break the chains and be a part of bringing into being a new world worth living in. Quite a few met on the sidewalk were perplexed and excited when the challenge was put forth, kind of like an “aha!” moment because they knew good and well the vicious bile that pours off the radio or ends up as .mp3s on their phones accompanied by cool beats. And most importantly, FUELS and KEEPS the bodies and lives steamrolled by the system’s dangerous logic going.

Right before we started, local businesses and restaurants had the challenge put to them too, and they came through to support the open mic, donating packs and liters of sodas and a pan of hot chicken wings. Artists who used the brush or lens displayed their pieces for the world to see, on canvases or in frames. And one artist sold a couple of her pieces there and donated the proceeds to the Club. They reflected style and some left you thinking what could they mean or even if it meant anything at all, while chatting it up with friends, neighbors, and families who came. One father was challenged on the sidewalk and he went to pick up his 13-year-old daughter and came right back to bring her, too, to the open mic, and to get into the future we are fighting for. As it turns out, his daughter had met the Revolution Club on the street months before and had been wanting to connect back up!

The night was opened by setting the event in the larger world and began with a reading of Micah Fletcher’s poem, written by the Portland slashing survivor from his hospital bed. After reading of the poem, there was a brief moment of silence and then thunderous applause for the stand he still takes and the lives of the two lost, and determination that we need to have no less courage in fighting these fascist moves and changing what people are living and dying for in the streets of Chicago.

Then the Points of Attention for the Revolution were read to set standards and give people backing and guidance for a new kind of liberating culture. Then the new Declaration from the Revolution Club was read enthusiastically by a Club member and a new person checking out the Club.

A Chicago Club member opened with a poem he had written for the open mic, which he performed over the music of “Summer Madness” by Kool & the Gang. It was a great opening and was followed by comments from a longtime friend of the Revolution Club whose son was killed by police many years ago. He talked about what happened to his son, his support for the Revolution Club, and why others should work with the Club, and stressed the importance of the work of Bob Avakian (BA) and thanked God for the revolution. After he spoke, one of the MCs expressed in a very warm and inviting way that there is room in the revolution for people to disagree about whether there is a god and that our Point of Attention number 5 says we must strive for the truth. The next was a young woman who is starting to get involved with the Revolution Club who did a poem by a popular Black poet in the ’90s about women and standing tall. A poet who had come with a friend and was checking out the revolution for the first time read some poems he had made, including a moving haiku about the people killed last year at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

The second half of the open mic started with the MCs making a call for people to donate. We let everyone know we were using an overturned bookcase to stand on because we didn’t have a stage but we wanted people to have a platform to perform on—and called on people to support the volunteers with the Revolution Club who had dropped everything to come to Chicago, pointing out that not every need can be solved the same way we solved the stage problem!

The next segment was started by playing an audio of an excerpt from BA’s The New Communism about why he was doing the work he’s been doing, read by the longtime revolutionary Joe Veale. Everyone stopped and cocked an ear to the message, some nodding at parts where BA spoke of the Black, Chicano, and LGBT people becoming his people. Then a poet did some free-form poetry contemplating what to do if you ran into blood on the leaves and the need for people to confront what is happening and act not on vengeance but to make sure it never happens again. Next a Chicago Club member read a poem about a vet who had fought in the U.S. military but then became an outspoken opponent of that military and traveled the country convincing youths not to join the military. Tragically, he later died related to having PTSD. This was followed by a poem written by a 13-year-old who was inspired to write it on the spot, about changing the world and fighting back. The official program of the open mic ended with beautiful singing in Mandarin by one of the MCs who sang two songs which she explained in English. One was about striving for the olive tree in the distance and the singer described the sense this song gives of keeping your eyes on a higher goal. The other is a love song by a popular Chinese singer about a love that is hard to encompass in words but is felt as undying as the moon that comes every night in the sky. The singer described this as a love that can be not just between two people, but love of the masses of people.

After the official program was over, people hung around and talked with each other, with a lot of appreciation for what we’d just experienced together, and some grouped up and put on music and started singing old love songs karaoke-style. There was a sense of a new and different culture that night, of people coming together as part of fighting to bring into being a better world, and a new way of people relating to each other that was very uplifting and different than the putrid social relations in this society. This was the first Future People Open Mic we’ve had here in Chicago, but there will be many more to come!



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