A Voice that Should be Heard

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Berkeley Celebrates Bob Avakian Day

Revolution #018, October 16, 2005, posted at revcom.us

October 6 was "Honor Bob Avakian Day" in the city of Berkeley. The day was called by the Bob Avakian Promo Committee in the Bay Area and others to recognize Bob Avakian on the occasion of the publication of his memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond.Their press release said, "We give recognition to Bob Avakian as an important and unique voice on the political scene today who dares to go for the truth. His voice and work are an important reference point for debate and discussion over how to thoroughly root out all oppression and social injustice."

The theme of the day was "Honor Bob Avakian: A Voice that Should Be Heard." In building for the day dozens of small business owners, clerks, artists, and poets signed a statement supporting the day, and many donated. A florist, who was originally from Iran, after hearing about the role Avakian played during the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Iran, donated a beautiful floral arrangement with a red rose in the center.

On Oct. 6, the day began with the hanging of a large banner high above Telegraph Avenue, the main street leading into the University of California campus. Revolution Books set up a large book table at Sproul Plaza at U.C. and played Revolution DVD selections over loud speakers. A motor home decked out with banners and posters cruised through multinational communities in South and West Berkeley. At Berkeley High, students stopped to listen to a rap remix of the song "Ghetto," featuring a sample from a speech by Avakian, while taking flyers and Revolution newspapers.

A highlight of the day was a reception in the Berkeley City Hall hosted by two members of the City Council, Kriss Worthington and Dona Spring, whose basic theme was "A voice that should be heard." From different angles people discussed how to carry forward efforts to enable his voice to be heard on a broad societal level. Raymond Lotta, Maoist political economist and writer, spoke about what Bob Avakian represents and concentrates and his deep ties with Berkeley.

The evening brought together a mix of people: city officials, teachers, lawyers, activists, historians, and revolutionaries. Some were getting introduced to Bob Avakian for the first time, while others have already been spreading the word to others. Many came together because they see the great need and potential to reach many more people throughout the society who want Avakian's voice to be heard on a far grander scale than it is today. The mood of the crowd was upbeat and excited to be present at such a significant and timely gathering.

The following are statements and interviews from the reception:

"I’m thrilled that I am able to be here and be part of this event and to introduce some of our speakers for the day. At a time of such right-wing reactionary policies at the national, state, and to some extent on the local level, we need to listen to the voices of everybody who is willing to stand up, speak out, protest and fight for peace and justice. I'm glad to be part of this...we should listen (to) and respect people - whatever brand of communism and revolution they subscribe to. We need those voices to be part of our civil society."

Berkeley City Council Member Kriss Worthington

"I do consider myself a revolutionary because our system is more rotten now than it's ever been in the history of humanity. I know I'm preaching to the choir when I talk about the multinational corporate grip that this whole planet is under and what a threat it is to our future existence. Environmentally, we know that global warming and ocean pollution is beginning to kill the very ecosystems we depend on for our life. We know that power and control of resources is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people...We need those people who can break through the corporate controlled media and their message... I think that the message of Bob Avakian is even more relevant today because we need to wake people up to how we need a totally different system.

Berkeley City Council Member Dona Spring

"A lot of people ask, 'where did the '60s go?' A lot of what Bob represents and concentrates represents exactly where the 1960s went in its most advanced expression. Bob never gave up on revolution. But he never stood still in terms of an understanding of what revolution is about and what it will take to make it. Bob summed up the experiences of the 1960s and he went on to develop a much deeper understanding of what it would take to make revolution in this society and in this world.... He has extended the horizons of Marxism by analyzing more deeply what that future world could be like and would look like and how that world could be brought into being. Bob has brought forward a vision of a vibrant socialist and communist society, one in which people's most basic needs are met, in which exploitation and oppression have been put an end to. A society that unleashes as well the creativity of people. A society that brings the downtrodden, the proletarians, who have been locked out of the spheres of art and culture, that these proletarians can and must enter into these spheres of society, the arts and the sciences. And at the same time he's bringing forward a vision of socialism in which there is scope and space for the intellectuals, and the artists and the scientists. A society which is teeming with creativity. Which is teeming with questioning and the critical spirit.

"I think Berkeley has historically distinguished itself as a place where people do take brave positions. Where people do challenge the status quo and injustice. I think here in Berkeley it’s very important that people take up this effort to defend his voice and to allow his voice to be heard as widely as possible."

Raymond Lotta, Maoist political economist and writer

"What I find compelling about Bob Avakian is that he has central themes that are applicable right now and that he has an historic presence. His approach is something that I can grab onto, beyond going to the ballot box. I've always voted Democratic, but the Democratic Party has no solutions and I'm looking for something I can grasp onto and I think that Bob and the Revolutionary Communist Party has the two core elements I'm looking for: immediacy and relevancy. I work in a personnel department so I interact with hundreds of employees of all economic wages and educational backgrounds and all are saying, 'I'm not making it, I can't make my house payment, my rent, health care is eroding.' And no one is addressing these issues in a real way, like Bob does. What Bob is saying makes sense right now and it ties into the lives of working class people. What Bob and the Revolutionary Communist Party has something they can grasp onto right now. It's not cryptic.

Someone who was first introduced to Bob Avakian at the premiere of the film Revolution in Berkeley

"I'm in tune with Bob Avakian's kind of work. I was an activist back in Detroit, Michigan so when I came to Berkeley in 1979 I felt very at home because of people like Mario Savio and Bob Avakian. I have to tell you that this is my introduction to his books, but I am a member of the Berkeley Historical Society. We carry his memoir and I am looking forward to reading it."

An older woman with the Berkeley Historical Society

"I think that Bob Avakian is a great individual, but one of the most important things to me is that he is in our midst. He went to our schools, Berkeley High. He went to Cal. And he is a great force for egalitarianism in society. As someone involved in city government, I think it's critical that we honor people that are great voices that are right here in our community. We have to be the ones to promote them. We can't allow this voice to be silenced. He's right here and he's ours."

A Black man who works on A Commission for the City of Berkeley