In the Thick of the Battle to Raise $25,000 for Revolution Books NYC
August 8, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revolution Books New York is in the thick of a must-win fundraising battle to raise $25,000 through an online Indiegogo (IGG) campaign. This IGG campaign is a decisive step in an ongoing fundraising effort to make Revolution Books, New York City (RB NYC) sustainable so that it can play its decisive role in the world today.
The cutting-edge and wide-ranging books... programs with world-renowned authors, musicians and others... deep engagement and wrangling with what’s behind the horrors people face in the world today and how it could be radically different and better... at the foundation, the new synthesis of communism developed by Bob Avakian—a thoroughly scientific method and approach to understanding society and for bringing about the full emancipation of all humanity through revolution... All this makes Revolution Books, located in Harlem, a unique and vital center for the movement for an actual revolution.
It’s why the success of this fundraising campaign is of urgent concern for everyone who aspires to a whole different future for humanity.
This reporter stopped by the store on Thursday night this past week, to get a first-hand sense of the scene and how the fundraising campaign is going. As of that time, there had been over $8,000 raised—go to the Indiegogo site to get the latest word on the campaign.
There’d been important developments so far—like the $500 matching challenge put out by Grammy-winning jazz musician Arturo O’Farrill, which was met by other donors. But as Raymond Lotta from the store said that night, the “brute and naked truth” is that a big leap is needed to make the goal. “And that means we have to get the word out, we have to project this more widely, we have to ramp it up. And we need to reach out to people who can make big donations. We need to reach out to all kinds of people who can donate, donate, donate—and help get this out more widely.”
Readers of revcom.us and Revolution newspaper should go to the Revolution Books website at revolutionbooksnyc.org, click on the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign button—and contribute!
From the Streets of Harlem to Across the Globe
Scheduled for that night at the store was an event with George Mallinckrodt, author of Getting Away With Murder, exposing torture, especially of mentally ill prisoners, in Florida state prisons. George, who worked in a Florida prison psychiatric unit, is a whistleblower who got fired after speaking out against the criminal abuse of prisoners. He announced to the audience that he was contributing all the proceeds from the sale of his book that night to the fundraising campaign—and urged people to give more.
The store’s mission statement says that “Revolution Books is where people come from across the street and across the globe to find the books and engagement about WHY the world is such a horror—and HOW to change it.” This reporter got a vivid sense of this just from spending a couple of hours there.
There was George Mallinckrodt interacting with a Latina woman from the Bronx, whose son has been under solitary lockdown in a Pennsylvania prison for 17 years—she was going to leave after the program to make the several-hour trip to see him for his birthday. The program that night included an exchange between George and Carl Dix from the Revolutionary Communist Party (and co-initiator, with Cornel West, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network) and a Q&A with the audience that included people of different ages and nationalities.
There was a 30-something couple from England, staying with friends in Harlem, who happened upon the store for the first time that afternoon and came back for the program. They were amazed to find a store like this—in the USA! Store staffers can tell many more stories like this about people coming into Revolution Books from countries across the globe.
Two young Black women, headed for high school after summer, who volunteer at the store, said they wanted to make T-shirts as part of the fundraising with the image of the Earth and the word “Revolution” over it. Why did they volunteer? “This is being about stopping police brutality and murder... and about having revolution for the world,” said one of these volunteers—as the other added, “And revolution is possible!” And why should people contribute? “This store can help people around the world to make a big difference.” “It’s got books like BAsics, the book by Bob Avakian. You can’t change the world if you don’t know the BAsics.”
A woman who teaches an adult literacy class nearby came in—her first time at the store—looking for audio material to help her students. Among the things she picked up was a CD of a radio interview that Cornel West did with Bob Avakian a couple of years ago. She couldn’t stay for the program but was definitely going to be back.
In the house were two members of the Revolution Club, fresh back from the intense weeks of projecting and organizing for revolution in the midst of the protests at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in Cleveland and Philly. Revolution Club NYC was hosting a “Future People” open mic the next night at the store, with the theme “Cast Off Illusions.”
These were just some of the people at Revolution Books that night... and only a small slice of all the people who recognize the importance of what Revolution Books means for people today and for the future.
Noche Diaz from the Revolution Club leading a discussion at Revolution Books, July 16
On the Revolution Books fundraising Indiegogo page is a statement from a “disillusioned Bernie Sanders person” who says that after the Sanders campaign collapsed, “I stumbled on Revolution Books after going to the vigil for the Orlando shooting and meeting Revolution Club members. I was outraged and since then I’ve been coming here to Revolution Books for answers I hadn’t found anywhere else about the political status of this country, some solutions to take, and I’ve been changing my mind about how politics can affect me and how I can help make change.” (Read whole statement here.)
Eve Ensler, playwright and creator of The Vagina Monologues, and founder of the V-Day Global movement, speaking at the store in 2013, called Revolution Books “a landmark of consciousness.” And, recalling the 1960s when revolution felt possible, she went to say: “I feel it’s really important that places that hold that history, but also the potential for revolution now, are preserved. This bookstore is one of those places.”
The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, in a statement in support of the re-opening of Revolution Books, wrote: “Revolution Books has made an impact on the cultural, literary, and political scene in New York City. Revolution Books is more than a bookstore; as it proudly states; ‘It is a place that changes lives... A bookstore about the world and for a whole new world.’”
Andy Zee, the spokesperson for Revolution Books, offered this on what brings forth this profound recognition and appreciation:
Do you know anyone else—any person or organization—that has managed to bring forth an actual PLAN for a radically different society, in all its dimensions, and a CONSTITUTION to codify all this? — A different world IS possible — Check out and order online the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).
At Revolution Books, the key political, intellectual, and cultural trends of the world today are engaged, probed and debated with a method and approach of discovering what is the reality at its deepest level—what is actually true. This is based on applying the more scientific foundation of the new synthesis of communism developed by Bob Avakian. This, in the context of the pathbreaking strategy for revolution and the concrete, visionary Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America that BA has put forth, provokes engagement with how and why an actual revolution to overcome all forms of oppression and exploitation could really be. And at RB, people have the opportunity to check out and become a part of this movement for revolution.
The wealth of books and films at RB provide a fertile vein, a deep mine of human experience, that reflects and concentrates the rich and complex history, the present brutal reality, as well as the aspirations and the soaring artistic achievements of humanity thus far. When all this is combined with the revolutionary theory, with the poetic and wrangling spirit that people find at the store... then, the possibility of a radically better world comes more into focus, its realization something to work and fight for. At RB, people from accomplished intellectuals and artists to people from the projects around the corner, find a place, an engagement, and a path to contribute to a radically new and better world.
Revolution Books NY has hosted hundreds of extraordinary events in the past few years—at the store and at other venues—involving well-known authors and artists and delving into breaking events in the world and wrestling with questions of revolution. Too many to name here—go to revolutionbooksnyc.org to learn more and to see videos of some of the events. But one upcoming event just announced for Friday, August 19: a reading and talk by Ghanaian-born author Yaa Gyasi, whose debut novel Homegoing was recently featured on the front cover of the New York Times Book Review.
The Time Is NOW to Donate
The $25,000 being raised in this campaign is needed NOW. Revolution Books opened at its current Harlem location in November last year, after a $100,000 fundraising effort. But just spending one hot summer evening at the store—with several electric fans going full throttle but temperatures still uncomfortably high—shows some of the urgent needs. The store needs funds for air conditioning as well as new signage to make its presence on Malcolm X Blvd. (Lenox Ave.) much more bold, and a new stage that would enable the store to hold bigger and more impactful programs. There’s a great range of books now at the store—including one of the best selections of James Baldwin books in the city—but in order to more fully play its role, the store needs funds to expand the selection with hundreds of new titles.
This is about Revolution Books surviving—and much more. This is a time when, as the Message from the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party says, “This system drives refugees and immigrants into exploitation, horror and death. This system wages brutal wars of slaughter. This system destroys the environment. This system locks down generations of Black and Brown youth, brutalizing and incarcerating them and even blowing them away—or else setting them up to fight and kill each other, when they should be fighting the REAL enemy. This system conditions men to disrespect and brutalize women, when the fury of women must be unleashed for revolution.” (From “Time To Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution”) These times demand that this store not just stay open but thrive—to reach many more people and different corners of society, and become even more the political, cultural, and intellectual center of the movement for an actual revolution... to become an even greater resource for the people of the world.
And in order to make that happen, all of us need to take responsibility for helping to make the $25,000 Revolution Books summer 2016 fundraising campaign a success. As the store says: Humanity needs revolution. Revolution needs Revolution Books. And Revolution Books needs you.
On Thursday night, Revolution Books raised three things that people can do immediately to really take things to another level as the campaign enters the home stretch:
1. Donate as much as you can by going to revolutionbooksnyc.org and clicking on the Indiegogo campaign button. Various artists, authors, and friends of Revolution Books have donated great premiums that are available for people who donate.
2. Three important visual artists—Kyle Goen, Dread Scott, and Derrick Adams—have donated astonishing works to the campaign, which are available as premiums for donations of $1,000 to $1,800. If you’re unable to donate at that level, get the word about this to art collectors and institutions that could afford these works.
3. Be part of the outreach—getting the word about the campaign through your family and work networks and social media, urging others to donate, and helping to set up meetings with potential large donors for representatives from the store to talk with.
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