Some Working Notes and Thoughts on Spreading BA’s Talk on the Trump/Pence Regime

by Sunsara Taylor

April 23, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


I have been following closely—and working hard to contribute to—the campaign announced in revcom to transform the situation where hardly anyone knows about BA and the significance of the work he has done, particularly focused now on BA’s speech on Trump/Pence. The following are some working notes on some of my experience with this, as well as some thoughts on how to step up and make more systematic and impactful our efforts to carry this work forward.


I’ve been systematically reaching back to all the people I have met or worked with in different ways (whether a long time ago or more recently). I have sent a series of mass emails, highlighting different questions of the day, new blurbs from various people, or different key excerpts of the film (like the GTF or the challenge of “Order or Justice“), all pointing to the importance of watching the whole film and talking with me about its contents. At the same time, I have also been calling, texting, and emailing people individually and persistently.

So far, I have been working through about two dozen people like this, talking with them where possible, or otherwise just keeping this in front of them. One person who agreed to watch and help spread the film promised “next week” so many times I started to wonder if there was something else going on. But then, out of the blue she sent me her thoughts on the film and did something that would significantly help spread this among those she has influence with.

Another old friend immediately agreed to watch the film and help promote it, mentioning how much he enjoyed BA’s previous speeches. But then he kept putting it off due to what he described as life events and business. After a while, I had a friendly struggle with him about that exact dynamic—people being consumed with their lives at a time when fascism is being consolidated, the danger of war being heightened dramatically, and other horrors mounting. I pointed out that many people were more outraged and willing to suspend their routines the day after the election than they are now—and this is precisely what we have to urgently transform, and this film is a critical part of transforming that dynamic, which is why he should put watching the film and helping get it out there higher on his priority list. He responded very deeply, admitting that this spoke exactly to what troubles him about what is taking place in society and that he really appreciates being pushed because he agrees and he often feels terrible that he is not doing enough. He then pushed himself, not only watching the film but also taking a first step in spreading it to others. My intent is to build on this, seeking to work in collective ways with him to promote this film, as well as into the work of, and a deeper engagement in BA’s work overall.

Activating social media networks: I have also worked with those who have watched the film to make sure they get it out on their social media platforms. When two people I know did this, it garnered about 100 more views of some portion of the film. This is still incremental, but it is part of how others start seeing it from other broader voices and this needs to be built upon.

I try to think about what voices might make a particular impact on influencing others. For example, I worked with someone to make special fliers promoting the film that included the quotes about it from David Gunn Jr. (son of the first abortion doctor to be murdered by anti-abortion fanatics) and Rev. Donna Schaper (who has spoken publicly about her own abortion and whose church has played a critical role over decades in support of abortion rights in many ways) that I took to an event highlighting this country’s abortion rights emergency.


Recently a Revolution Club member and I attended an interfaith religious celebration and dinner for immigrant and refugee justice put on by a city government commission in collaboration with several nonprofits and various religious leaders. The program had speakers from different faiths, city workers, immigrants from around the world, and several nonprofits.

We met about half a dozen religious leaders who were very open to hearing about the film. One rabbi told us her wife had brought home the film palm card from somewhere and they had saved it, but not yet watched it. A couple of imams from Queens were very moved by the whole event, emphasizing that they’d never felt welcomed by Jewish leaders before. They were very open to watching and hosting a screening of the film. One priest told us how he came to this country without papers after more than a dozen of his comrades were slaughtered by his country’s government after the communist group he’d been part of made a truce and turned over their weapons. He didn’t know about BA but was intrigued about THE NEW COMMUNISM.

All this requires follow-up. We have sent emails, but not called through yet. But this is the kind of thing that a lot more people need to be doing a lot more of—there are all kinds of events going on all the time where people are grappling with, or trying to carve out a culture in opposition to, the ugliness that is riding high today with this regime.

[3] Overall, there is a real need for all levels of this campaign—as laid out in the new plan posted online—to be more concretely developed and systematically pursued. I am thinking here particularly of: (1) more systematic work by those who are able to deeply advocate for BA to pry open engagement among those with disproportionate influence and to influence the superstructure, (2) really unleashing a mass movement to the masses in a mass way among all kinds of people new and old, and (3) how these levels are conceived of and carried out to mutually reinforce and strengthen each other.

While this is far from exhaustive, I have been thinking about three key arenas that we need to more systematically approach.

(A) Religious and faith leaders: There has been particular openness both historically (going back to Preaching from a Pulpit of Bones: We Need Morality But Not Traditional Morality) as well as more recently (Revolution and Religion: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion—A Dialogue Between Cornel West & Bob Avakian, as well as to the responses already to BA’s talk on Trump/Pence). At the same time, from a different but reinforcing and positive angle, there has been the phenomenon of more faith leaders raising their voices in concern about the current moment, particularly against the attacks on immigrants and Muslims, but also in relationship to opposing the white supremacists in Charlottesville or even more recently standing up against the outrageous arrest of two Black men in Starbucks.

We need to significantly step up our work to get BA’s talk out to these networks and leaders, while at the same time we need to much more systematically work to learn who are the key faith leaders nationally, what are the key networks, what are the key convergences, conferences, programs, etc. that we need to go into and fight for engagement in with the new talk in particular as well as with (not the exact same, but very positively related).

Part of this must also include a better vision of how to marshal the engagement that has taken place among these networks to become something of a growing pole of attraction/engagement. We need to strategize much more systematically with the folks who have engaged over how to do this, learning who they think the key people to get with are, what are the key questions to take up, and more. We are not yet maximizing the real, even if still initial, good will and ties we have among this community—including wielding more consciously the rich taped and written responses that various religious leaders have provided urging others to watch BA’s speech.

At the same time, there needs to be more systematic and conscious “barefoot doctor” work to go out to these networks around the country and to be setting up film showings and meetings with leaders that people with more experience and ability to represent could then be integrated into.

(B) Black intelligentsia, artists, students, aroused sections of Black people. We need to continue to seize every opening that presents itself through events and outbreaks of struggle where we are and continue to go back to all we have worked with over years, while also more systematically identifying who more broadly we need to be reaching out to, what are the terms that need to be entered into beyond our immediate areas or networks. Who are the national figures, what are the convergences (academic, cultural, religious, etc.) we should consider relating to. And, what are the questions that we need to engage.

(C) Immigrants—both the movements taking this up right now and the broad communities: We have found fertile ground in taking the BA film out to sections of immigrants—this is reflected in the snapshots on revcom. Can we map the terrain on this more fully—who are the leading academics dealing with the question of refugees and immigration, rising populism and nationalism in this country and around the world? Who are the key immigrant rights forces and leaders—there are a lot of networks that have sprung up, we need to understand more. Who are the artistic figures dealing with this (for example, a major literary event and a significant museum festival in NYC right now both deal with the questions of borders, language/translation, immigration and detention in different ways). We need to step up “barefoot doctor” work out among the neighborhoods and broad networks, while also developing a more scientific understanding of where we most need to go to connect with influencers.

This is not comprehensive of the key sectors we need to reach—but getting systematic about these could make a big difference as we continue to move forward.


It seems we really need to kick up to a much higher level a spirit and movement of going out to the masses of people in all corners of society in a truly mass way.

In cities like NYC, there should be teams out on the trains—getting the film card out to thousands of people in just a few hours. Everywhere, as nice weather finally visits us we should be out at farmer’s markets with fliers and a tablet for people to watch clips of the film. We should be at street fairs and gallery openings, at the theaters, at movies, at campus events, in classrooms, and more. We need a culture and spirit of taking this everywhere and more people taking initiative to seize every opportunity possible. People should be taking posters to cafes and laundromats in their neighborhoods and those nearby, not just waiting for a team or an assignment.

It is also important that the teams that are organized not be focused narrowly. Citywide coordination is necessary to ensure that key events are covered with basic materials—but shouldn’t there also be at least some coordination of the kind of truly mass outreach that reaches thousands every day? It is good and necessary that the film cards get out at key events related to Trump or immigration or the King anniversary, but it is not acceptable—nor is it necessary for it to remain the case—that in crowds like the one described in the account of taking BA to the museum, BA is virtually unknown. Transforming this is not going to come from just getting out to the politicized events. There is a lot that even small numbers of people can do who are truly on a mission to get out in a mass way—and there are a lot of people and networks you start to meet who do have more influence when you start to go at things this way. I can think of quite a few examples in recent years where small numbers of people who were truly determined to get out in a very mass way with something ended up seeing their efforts amplified in television shows, on the social media platforms of world-renowned artists, as well as creating a buzz of engagement and involvement that began to bubble up from below.


Hopefully these notes will help provoke others to go out even more boldly and more broadly, as well as more systematically and with a growing social impact, with this essential film from BA as well as his whole body of work, and to write in and share their experience here at so we can all learn from and build on this experience together.




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