Revolution #157, February 22, 2009
Feast in Harlem Raises Money
for Revolution Newspaper
In November 2008, Revolution newspaper announced a bold, mass initiative to transform the reach, role and content of this newspaper in major ways: The REVOLUTION Initiative involves making real leaps in building a revolutionary movement around this newspaper.
The REVOLUTION Initiative comes in a time of major economic crisis...a time of two U.S. invasions and more being threatened...and a time of major changes in the thinking of people as to what is possible and—if we urgently seize the openings—what is needed. This is a time that demands a much more powerful and broadly distributed newspaper—and website—one that can more fully, directly and deeply contribute to the work of hastening the motion toward, and preparing the people for, a revolutionary situation.
This initiative involves bringing many new people into the concrete work of distributing and raising money for and producing this newspaper… And this initiative needs to involve YOU.
Sunday, February 8, a Fundraising Feast was held for Revolution newspaper at St. Mary’s church in Harlem. As people entered the room they were greeted by stunning and provocative graphics from the pages of Revolution hung around the room, a slide show of Revolution, music playing, and generally a good vibe. There were tables with colorful displays about the production of a revolutionary newspaper including layout design, website, and Spanish translation, where people could talk and get involved. You could also visit a table from Revolution Books, a kids’ corner featuring books on evolution and an exciting “fossil excavation.” About 80 people, including immigrants from many corners of the world, came together to feast and talk about the biggest questions humanity faces today, the difference Revolution makes in the world—and the need to support and sustain a paper like this. We raised about $1200 after expenses.
In order to have a successful event that really put into practice the spirit of the bold initiative to expand the reach, the role, and the content of Revolution; in building for this event we did not just rely on who we knew already. The volunteers throwing this feast thought big about how we could take out the paper and its mission, engaging around this and uniting those we did know to further contribute. But it was also critical that we meet new people who would become part of the revolutionary movement. So this is what we did. We planned on taking out the bold initiative, and also using recent coverage of the elections, which is the only thing out in society like it, and also we got everyone we met the issue of Revolution containing “Communism: The Beginning of A New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.” Through the course of discussing questions like revolution, internationalism, Obamamania, and religion, a lot of different people with different perspectives got involved and some of them contributed, donating food and baked goods. A feast there was! This included chicken, beans and rice from a Cuban restaurant, vegetable stir-fry, salads, bread, and more desserts than you could count!
The fundraising feast brought together all kinds of people. There were youth who met Revolution newspaper for the first time in Harlem at a speak-out against the murder of Oscar Grant who wanted to find out more about this paper. There were friends of two young men who were shot in Brooklyn who came, who had already read and distributed papers and were talking about how surprised they were about the systemic and systematic nature of this, and how we need revolution. There were parents of Black and Latino young men that have been killed by police, who have been active in the struggle against police brutality and murder for decades. There were anti-war activists.
See more fundraising correspondence online at revcom.us:
Attorney Lynne Stewart and her partner Ralph Poynter announced, and presented a $100 donation to Revolution newspaper. And, Lynne Stewart announced an exciting event: A Benefit for the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund—An Evening With Lynne Stewart and Ralph Poynter, which is set for March 15th in New York City. In 2005, Lynne Stewart and two of her former legal co-workers were convicted on a range of serious charges. Her real crime, in the eyes of the government, was representing one of her clients—a client the government felt deserved no legal rights at all. The struggle to overturn her conviction and sentence (which are being appealed) are important battles in the struggle to defend basic rights.
There were artists and actors at the feast, several of whom participated in the main entertainment of the afternoon, reading excerpts from the pages of Revolution. The excerpts consisted of letters to Revolution from prisoners and a Revolution distributor, a poetic reading of headlines from a variety of articles in the paper, some of the sharp exposure and analysis around U.S. imperialism and specifically the recent massacres in Gaza, and the Three Main Points, by Bob Avakian. A highlight was the powerful reading of an excerpt from the last chapter of Bob Avakian’s memoir—“Money Can Make Friendship End.” (Excerpts from the memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, are available online at revcom.us/avakian/ and bobavakian.net/audio3.html) After this Sunsara Taylor, a writer for Revolution, spoke to the fact that the world does not have to be this way, and with state power society could be radically different right away, and how Revolution newspaper has an important role to play in building a revolutionary movement today.
Throughout the entire program I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say the audience was riveted. And these readings were an exciting and deep experience for the performers too! The pages of the paper were brought to life. People have been commenting that they read the articles and enjoy them in the paper, but hearing them read in this way you felt the heart beat of them, they resonated in different ways and even moved some to tears. I made a note in my notebook about the experience of working with and involving actors, poets, spoken word artists and other theater professionals in this event: It was an experience in working with and applying what Mao and Bob Avakian talk about as “embrace but not replace,” going into a particular sphere, having the revolutionary line leading, but not replacing the laws and dynamics of a sphere, although it can react on and even change those laws. This is a question that is important to wrangle with and get right in work around this bold initiative to transform Revolution and involve many more people in the revolutionary movement.
The readings were a catalyst to even more discussion and controversy in the lively scene afterwards, where people hung out, made new friends, and talked. Some people had very strong disagreements with things like the paper’s opposition to Israel, or the way it takes on religion, but this compelled people to want to get into things more, and to contribute in different ways, sustaining the paper, taking stacks to distribute, and continuing the conversation. Homemade brownies were sold, and two pies that were made and a cake that was sold at a discounted rate were auctioned off. There was a lot of creative energy with people finding ways to support this paper, based on their understanding of how vital it is to knowing and changing the world. People also talked about going forward from here, what was needed to get the paper out further in society.
In addition to the Benefit for the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund—An Evening With Lynne Stewart and Ralph Poynter set for March 15 (at a place to be announced), it was announced there will be a fundraising dinner for Spanish translation of Revolución.
Donate / Sustain Revolution newspaper at http://revcom.us/fund_en.php , or send checks or money orders to: RCP Publications, Box 3486 Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654. Make checks payable to “RCP Publications.”
Contributions or gifts to RCP Publications are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. At the present time, RCP Publications cannot accept any contributions or gifts from readers who reside outside the borders of the United States.
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