From the Premieres

San Francisco Bay Area

March 21, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


An excited crowd gathered at Laney College in Oakland on Sunday, March 17, in anticipation of viewing the premiere of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Those arriving early were greeted by representatives of the Revolution Club—Bay Area, and checked out the Revolution Books table in the lobby. Then, led by a banner-carrying contingent from the Revolution Club—East Oakland, people entered the theater to begin the day.

About 150 people were in the theater Sunday. It was a diverse group—different nationalities and ages, people drawn from all over the Bay Area. For many this was the first time they had come to such an event and a few were apprehensive about what they would find and hear. The freshness of a large section of the audience gave a different character to the event. Many, many of the people attending were not known to the organizers of the event before the day. People had heard about it in different ways—palm cards, billboard, newspaper ads, radio, class announcements and through friends. Something new was represented—new and important and fragile.

Students and teachers from City College of San Francisco, where there is a fierce battle raging to keep the school open for the 90,000 students who depend on it, were in the house, led by the Revolution Club just being forged there. Students from Laney College, UC Berkeley, Berkeley City College, Cal State East Bay, and other Peralta Colleges were represented. High school students from two different San Francisco charter schools attended as did students from Castlemont High School, Oakland High School, Oakland School of the Arts, Skyline High School, and Berkeley High School. These students were joined by teachers from at least three different high schools and other youth from around the area who met the revolutionaries during different outings over the past six weeks. Some of these students came together as beginning cores at their schools and others came individually.

In addition to this significant section of youth, there were many others of different nationalities, ages and backgrounds in the audience. Men and women from East Oakland and San Francisco who have been taking up revolution for a while now made sure they were representing for their neighborhoods and stood up proudly when the MC asked members of the Revolution Club to identify themselves. Anti-war activists, teachers, nurses, attorneys, unemployed and homeless, immigrants from Latin America, Iran, and Africa, a long-ago friend of BA who saw an announcement about the film and made sure to be there. Others BA had known from Black Panther Party days came to hear him speak. Several people had heard Carl Dix talk about the Kimani Gray murder and the link between the need for resistance to that and other police murders and the importance of seeing this premiere. Many had been called during the last few days leading up to the premiere and told us that those personal calls made a decisive difference in their plans to attend.

During the intermission, which lasted longer than planned because technical difficulties had to be resolved, people ate, mingled and compared notes about the speech. DVDs, premiere T-shirts, and literature were sold at the Revolution Books table. People checked out their packets to find out what was planned in the coming week and to fill out the questionnaires about how they would like to get connected. Some we talked to during the break commented that BA's exposure of Obama was hard to take. Others were not so sure about BA's critique of religion. Most, but not all, agreed that revolution, nothing less, is needed. Some said they could now see how that could even be possible in a country like this.

At the end of the evening, it was late (we started late to give those coming from the neighborhoods an opportunity to be there for the beginning and because the technical problems we had to resolve during intermission meant a longer intermission than we had planned) but many stayed to talk, to get more DVDs, to find out how to get involved. Most of those from the Revolution Club—East Oakland stayed for a while to eat dinner, visit, compare notes in a lively gathering characterized by a genuine camaraderie and excitement over what they had heard that day, the shoots of a movement for revolution that were seen in the groupings of people, young and old, all nationalities who came together to be part of this historic premiere. Plans were made to meet up on the weekend to get the DVDs out into the neighborhoods and to talk further about what they had just seen.

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