Barefoot Doctoring At...

Showing the BA Film at
Medgar Evers College

May 14, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


From the staff of

“I knew Trump wasn’t a Democrat, and he wasn’t exactly a Republican, but I didn’t know what he was. Now I know—he’s a fascist!”

“I liked him [Bob Avakian]. I felt like his argument was very sound. I think he’s going to open lots of people’s eyes, because a lot of people didn’t know any of this...”

“... I like how he’s a revolutionary, too. His tone is an inspiration; it made ME want to be a revolutionary. I want to stand up for some stuff in my community.”

—Medgar Evers College students after the showing of the BA film

Thursday afternoon, an important showing and discussion of the film of Bob Avakian’s talk, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible took place in the library at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York. The event was sponsored by Anthropology@MEC, the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department, the Charles Evans Innis Memorial Library, and Revolution Books. The bulk of the audience (30-35 people) were from the college and neighboring community. Most were students. A half dozen faculty and staff also attended, as well as members of the Revolution Club, Refuse Fascism, and the Revolution/ staff. About half of the audience stayed for the whole movie and most of the hour-long discussion afterward. Some stayed and talked for a couple of hours after the event was officially over.

The event publicity promised “unabashed” discussion, and it was. MC’ed by Dr. David Orenstein, a Medgar Evers professor, and Sunsara Taylor of, there was unabashed, lively, and serious discussion provoked by BA’s talk. Much of it focused on the Trump/Pence regime and the need to fight fascism, but it also ranged into revolution and communism. Along with agreement and questions from watching the film, assumptions were challenged and there was lively engagement and struggle over what BA had to say and whether it was true.

One woman began that she didn't know Trump was so serious. Was he trying to be Hitler, is it slowly becoming fascism? What is fascism? A student asked, don’t checks and balances mean that Trump can't do what he wants? Isn't the legislature what we have to focus on?

There was a lot of back and forth over what should be done, and whether there was another way to deal with this, like boycotts or getting active in the political system—would these be safer or less risky? Even as many felt the Democrats have done nothing, there was some surprise as Sunsara Taylor talked about the role that Democrats have actually been playing, for example with North Korea and DACA. Sunsara gave the example of Schumer and Pelosi sitting down with Trump the day after he ended DACA and helping to legitimize it—and that same woman responded, “Nancy and Chuck did that?!?” in shock.

And people discussed whether a real revolution is required to overthrow the whole system. About revolution and communism, one woman asked how would a communist America be good when other communist countries are dictatorships?

Professor Orenstein and Sunsara Taylor had a great chemistry. He did vivid exposure on the attacks by Trump on sciences and the environment, and the dismantling of public education, and urged people to take action: “As citizens we have rights and are protected by the Constitution. But there is erosion of rights, attacks on journalists, and more. We need to NOT be asleep. It is worrisome if we don't see it going on before us. Must see it, and take action. Be aware what is happening, it is real, and we will all be suffering through this. However you act, ACT!”

As part of the conversation Sunsara Taylor went into what Refuse Fascism was about, and the urgent, immediate need for massive, sustained and growing numbers taking the street to drive out the Trump/Pence regime. She stressed that the people were the decisive factor in this, not the elections. She spoke to how this system is a nightmare, and to the need for revolution and building a movement for revolution now, and what all that means. She also addressed questions about the history of communism and introduced people to Bob Avakian—how he came forward in the 1960s, never gave up on revolution, and how he’s worked over decades to bring forward a new communism that’s a leap beyond the previous understandings.

Copies of the pamphlets HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution and Bob Avakian (BA)—Official Biography were handed out to everyone who attended, and people signed up to stay connected and get further involved.

This whole discussion, and the comments—and energy—that many people left the room with was a testament to the transformative power of BA’s scientific indictment of the roots and systemic character of the regime and what can and must be done to stop it. People didn’t just find the film “interesting,” although they did find it interesting, or learn this or that, although they did learn a lot. The film really changed—in important if beginning and still contradictory ways—the framework through which they were looking at current events. There was a process of deepening engagement and ideological struggle that really went somewhere with a lot of elasticity and participation (including very positively by the professor) on the foundation of the solid core provided by the film. This whole experience underscores the impact this film needs to have as thousands growing into tens and hundreds of thousands see it.

How the Showing Got Organized

Staff members of Revolution/ answered the call to be barefoot doctors, focusing on Medgar Evers, a commuter college in Brooklyn (part of CUNY—the City University of New York system) with a progressive history and a student body that is overwhelmingly non-white, including many immigrants or children of immigrants from around the world.

We began in late February by going out to the campus several days each week with palm cards about the film and clips queued up on our cellphones. We agitated to all we met along the lines of the description in the poster for the film—“A regime that could destroy civilization. You think you know...but you don’t.” We introduced people to BA, “the most radical revolutionary on earth.” We focused on encouraging people to watch clips from the film, and this impacted the dozens who did. And we struggled with everyone around the importance of getting organized to spread this film far and wide, because it could change the whole terrain. Many gave a way to stay in touch. We were determined, and struggled through as things usually did not go as we hoped or planned (including a meeting that no one came to!).

In recent weeks we’ve been putting this more firmly in the framework of revolution—having a literature table with BAsics, the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, THE NEW COMMUNISM, and Science and Revolution as well as the Refuse Fascism call, and also introducing people to the pamphlet HOW WE CAN WIN - How We Can Really Make Revolution.

It would hit people when we’d agitate, “What does it say about this whole system that 400 years after slavery began we now have Trump in the White House?” People were jolted, and often agreed that the whole system was rotten. We’d go on: we need a revolution, and you need to get into BA, the leader of the revolution, and watch his film about why, right now, we have to stop the Trump/Pence regime before it’s too late.

Going for a film showing on the campus, even though there wasn’t a lot of time left in the semester, we “walked the halls” looking for professors or administrators we could talk to, and found a number of people who were interested. Professor Orenstein in particular was eager for the kind of intellectual engagement and political activation the film showing promised. That night he went home, watched the film and wrote a promotional call for watching BA’s film. A couple of days later he secured a place for us to show it, and we were off to the races with about ten days to build the showing. Lesson: go out widely without preconceptions about who might do what—the earth is shifting under our feet.

We saturated the campus and popularized the film in the nearby community with leaflets and posters, and leafleted a nearby high school. We brought a big 3 by 4 foot enlargement of the poster for the film to campus. The Revolution Club also joined in for the final push. Some students took part, taking stacks of leaflets, making announcements in class. One made 300 copies of the flyer. The sponsorship of a professor created openings for other professors to spread word among their students.

Questions came up throughout this effort that we had to wrestle with and solve. Focusing on showing the clips from the film, introducing people to BA and encouraging them to engage with him more deeply. Struggling to build organization among students and professors. Bringing HOW WE CAN WIN into the mix. And working our ways through these contradictions from the standpoint of getting BA and the new communism out far and wide and bringing forward legions of real followers is the most important thing we can do and the measure of all of our efforts.

The key was keeping a firm grip on the reality we confront, the leader and revolutionary visionary we have in BA, and the urgent, transformative film we have in our hands. Organizing showings of this film—whether larger or smaller—is something many, many people can do, and learn as we go along.

Even as school winds down and finals loom for the students, we’re going to be going back to campus, emailing everyone we met, having lunches with professors and figuring out how we can spread BA and this film.




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