Taking Willie “Mobile” Shaw to D.C.

Revolution #031, January 22, 2006, posted at revcom.us

Editor’s note: The Revolutionary Communist Speaking Tour has hit Washington, D.C., “challenging and inspiring especially those in the ghettos and barrios to rise up . . . and to join the communist cause to emancipate all of humanity.” The following correspondence came from a veteran comrade working with the Tour there.

The Chairman’s statement on the death of Comrade Willie "Mobile" Shaw and the Joe Veale tribute [see Revolution #27, December 18, 2005] came at a particularly difficult time. I was struggling through line questions and orientation and taking on some very new and challenging assignments. I was not discouraged but feeling a little overwhelmed.

I didn't know Willie but it was very apparent that this was a comrade who fought with everything he had to understand and take to others the most advanced and correct understanding. Are we communists always looking to the horizon and fighting for the highest interests of the people? Or are we out to tell people what they want to hear or something palatable? I happened to be around other comrades who knew Mobile personally. They could relate anecdotes about how he fought through difficulties to do this, and did not allow his personal situation or objective conditions to prevent him from reaching and striving for the most from himself and others – for the sake of the masses of people of the world. This quality stands out in a world where too many people seem to give in to cynicism or blame the masses in some ways for their condition. In this way he was representing what it means to strive for our organization to be a party of Bob Avakian. There is a particular message out there broadly for the masses to step into Mobile's shoes but frankly, all comrades, veterans and "not so veteran," need to strive to do so as well.

I've talked to a few people from among the proletariat who've been intrigued by this statement in the sense that they ask, "Who is he?" and when I've read to those people the first few lines of this statement they've said that they've "wanted to be part of something like this." More than a few assumed that Willie had been murdered by the enforcers for his revolutionary politics. They say, "How did they kill him?" or "I didn't hear about this, when did they kill him?" I explain what I've heard from others – that he'd been ill for quite some time and that, despite the hardships of this illness, Willie never let this keep him from fighting for a better world. I've explained how he lived his life and what his example means for how the people can strive to work for and be about something more than this dog-eat-dog way of life that's propagated by this system. I particularly pointed out how this orientation was for the people of the world and not just for one race or nation or just for this community. This has been most challenging to folks who, even the best of whom tend to put things in the terms of our "people." This was always challenging to people.

This statement gets right to the core of many of the things that people are thinking about and agonizing over. One example sticks out to me. I'm used to particularly religious people saying stuff like, "I'm leaving it all in god's hands!" Some of these folks say this in anger coming from a more backward place believing that we communists are demons or apostates of hell. Others are actually friendly. The latter are sympathetic and aware of the nature of this oppressive system but they have consciously chosen to surrender. Some people are like the latter group but respond like the former.

I encountered a Black woman of around 50 years old about a week ago who very angrily yelled at me that we needed to leave it all to god! "I'm good!!! I ain't got nothin' to worry about because all this is in HIS HANDS!!!"

I told her that she needed to stop believing this nonsense! Stop letting things happen to us and take responsibility for the future yourself! I approached her and just began telling her about Willie Shaw. She continued to yell at me but I went ahead and told her she needed to listen if she had an open mind at all. She did listen. I read to her the passages mentioned above and went on to tell her that there's millions of people like Willie who, if they were conscious and armed with an understanding of how the real world works and began to act on that understanding, could fight for a different future. The world could be a much different and better place.

This woman broke down in tears when I told her that our Chairman was challenging people like her to live like this and fight for this different and better future, stepping into Willie's shoes. She started telling me that she had recently lost her apartment, and her brother and niece, all the family she had in the world, had been killed due to neglect in some industrial accident and she didn't have the power or ability to fight the case. "I'm angry all the time at everything! All I know is that I see all this stuff going up for white people and our people ain't got nothing and are getting less and less and ain't nobody telling us what to do about it. I want to thank you for telling me about this because I needed to hear it."

I don't know what I expected but this reversal was remarkable to me. At one time I would have assumed that anyone coming at me with her attitude was just some religious zealot. At best I would figure that I could argue with this person to expose their ridiculous backwardness. In this case I exposed it to her. I gave her a DVD sampler and several copies of the paper which she said she'd give to others at the place where she now lives. She pointed out where she lives. She had no money and said she'd give something the next time I saw her.

This was the most pointed experience I've had in taking this out. It does illustrate in general how what we're saying is important to the masses and taken seriously by them. We should not underestimate the ability of people to take this up.