Revolution #77, January 28, 2008


Memorial for Billy “Jazz” Ellis

On January 6, 2007 our friend and comrade Billy "Jazz" Ellis died. Jazz faced extremely challenging health problems for many years: he was 72 when he suffered the massive stroke that ended his full, purposeful life - a life dedicated to bringing about a communist world.

Raised in Jim Crow Texas, Jazz moved to San Francisco as a teenager and lived in the projects with his mother. He became politically active while working for Muni as a bus driver. He was politically awakened in the 1960s and was drawn toward revolutionary politics. He was a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

Mao, revolutionary China and especially the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution where ordinary people "stormed the heavens" taking up politics, science and art were crucial inspirations which shaped Jazz’s whole life. Jazz was a firm follower of Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP. He traveled to Washington, D.C. in 1979 to join others politically defending Bob Avakian from attack by the government. More recently Jazz made it his mission to introduce youth to Bob Avakian and his writings when they came into Revolution Books.

A few months ago on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the Hunters Point Rebellion he wrote an article recalling the uprising, saying “by rebelling, people were standing up against the whole way they were being treated and the hypocrisy of American society, which talked about civil rights but wasn’t giving us anything. Our rage was uncontainable.”

Jazz’s enthusiastic search for liberation and a whole new world was uncontainable.

On February 11 there will be a memorial to celebrate his life with the music he loved, reminiscences from family and friends, and good food. And we will show excerpts of the film Jazz narrated with his beautiful resonant voice: Mao, the Greatest Revolutionary of Our Time.

The memorial will be held at the Humanist Hall, 390 27th Street in Oakland at 6 p.m. For more information and/or to participate in this memorial contact Revolution Books by email or call 510/848-1196. Remembrances can be sent to

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