Chicago July 6 BA Everywhere Picnic:

Coming Together for a Radically Different Future

July 14, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Two futures were on display in Chicago over the 4th of July weekend. One future, on display at the city’s lakefront downtown, was the ugly “USA, USA” patriotic “my-country-first” celebration of THEIR revolution, built on slavery and genocide and modern-day empire of power and domination all over the world. The other future came to life at a lakefront park on the South Side on July 6, where over 50 people came out to get rid of ALL modern-day forms of slavery here in the U.S. and around the world—all the horrors and madness caused by this system. At this picnic, a video clip of BA speaking to Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave Is Your 4th of July?” captured this contrast perfectly, as it exposed the world-record level of hypocrisy involved in America’s claim to be “the land of the free.”

People were greeted by the BA Everywhere committee, which hosted the event, and a significant crew from the Revolution Club. People quickly got to socializing as they loaded up their plates with good food, while a soundtrack of international beats picked up their spirits.

A number of people came to the picnic because they are angry and agonizing over the fact that for many Black youths in the inner city there is no future except jail, prison, or death at an early age at the hands of the police or from other youths just like them. To give a sense of how sharp this is in Chicago, during this four-day holiday weekend many people were shot, mainly on the South and West Sides of the city. The police gunned down five people, murdering two of them—a 14- and a 16-year-old. The escalating spiral of violence among the masses resulted in 75 people shot, at least eight of them fatally.

Revolution Club presenting posters of a proclamation which launches an intense undertaking to build the movement for revolution. Photo: Special to Revolution

One of the high points of the whole picnic was the presentation by the Revolution Club. Wearing Revolution—Nothing Less T-shirts, the entire Revolution Club stepped to the front holding posters of a proclamation which launches an intense undertaking to build the movement for revolution. The proclamation was read out for the first time at the picnic. The seriousness of what it calls for—not putting up with the police riding roughshod over the oppressed, and going right into the midst of people caught up in taking out their anger on each other, and bringing forward the movement for revolution—this proclamation was inspiring and challenging. Together with the New Year’s message from BA, this proclamation is being distributed in the thousands in some of the hardest hit inner-city areas with a determination to not only popularize it, but to make what it says a reality. While many people are agonizing about how to stop the violence among the young people, their programs blame the youth and leave the capitalist-imperialist system which is responsible for this intact, to continually grind people under, here and all over the world. The proclamation makes clear that revolution is the actual solution. The proclamation says that it will not be easy, but those people who step forward now can make a huge difference not just for the neighborhood, or the city, but for the world—this is a future worth living for and fighting to bring into being.

Throughout the day, people were learning about the whole range of initiatives that the Party is taking to make a leap in building the movement for revolution this summer. There were displays and tables for BA Everywhere, Stop Patriarchy and the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, Stop Mass Incarceration Network, Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund, Revolution Books, and the Revolution Club. Many learned about ways they can be involved immediately and responded positively.

For many people, this picnic was their introduction or their first in-depth engagement with Bob Avakian and the revolution. People were challenged to take up and raise major funds to spread BA Everywhere to the millions whose profound discontent seethes beneath the surface, millions who need to know why the world is the way it is and how it could be radically different. For those who have deep questions, but hit a brick wall, BA Everywhere is about breaking through that wall and showing that there is a way out. An actor brought this alive by reading a moving letter from an ex-prisoner calling on everyone to donate to the “1000 years—$1000 project.”

A display with images from Revolution newspaper depicted some of the many forms of present-day slavery that this system enforces on people around the globe. Photo: Special to Revolution

One African-American woman said, “I know the youth can change, if they have BA, BAsics, the revolution. But without that, they’ve got nothing, and of course they end up doing what they’re doing.” She has plans to take BA and BAsics out to the youth. “Today I feel like I’m not alone, I’m not crazy... I’ve always hated the 4th of July... and all these African Americans who are spending hundreds of dollars on fireworks—why are they celebrating this?”

One of the two themes of the picnic, “We Refuse to Accept Slavery in Any Form,” was dug into and broken down in the program and also presented in a display ringed by beautiful graphics, drawn from Revolution newspaper, depicting some of the many forms of present-day slavery that this imperialist system enforces on people around the globe. There were a lot of serious discussions about the meaning of this slogan. What are all the forms of slavery? What is the cause of all this? How do you put a stop to it? What kind of revolution are you talking about? What is your strategy? BAsics, by BA, a handbook for revolution, was essential for getting into the need to do away with ALL forms of slavery and domination for all of humanity, including the oppression of women who are half of humanity.

There was controversy over abortion after Sunsara Taylor’s urgent video call to join and support the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. A teenage African-American woman was very excited about the Freedom Ride, while several older Black men brought out their opposition—”abortion is genocide” and “what about men’s rights?” Others answered that if women cannot control their own bodies and reproduction and decide for themselves whether or when to have children then they are enslaved.

At one table people talked about how they had been changed by learning that all the horrors people face are rooted in this system of capitalism. A woman in the Revolution Club was talking about how the system is behind all the horrors in the world, but this is hidden from people. She had recently learned from a friend in the military that the U.S. has nuclear weapons in Hawai'i: “How in the hell could the U.S. call other people terrorists when they have the weapons of mass destruction stored all over the place?” A man who had just learned about BA and the revolution at the picnic responded that he had traveled to Africa and it just tore his heart out how poor and messed up it was. He added, “It is this way because the U.S. goes over there and mines the coltan that is essential for everyone’s cell phones.” This led into a whole discussion of what imperialism has done to Africa.

Many people expressed the urgent need to stand up against police brutality and mass incarceration and to end the violence among the youth. A speaker from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network spoke to importance of the October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation and called on people to take up this fight to impact all of society. One man pointed to a picture of a cop brutalizing a Black youth said, “I think about this every day. Even on the days I don’t want to think about it I end up thinking about it... that could be me any day. This has happened to so many of my friends and family.” There was a lot of wrestling with what was the root of the problem and what is the way out. Some said they see what’s happening to Black youth as a genocidal program. A young man said he had read Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow and a number of other books trying to figure out what was going on. He came to the picnic to find out what the revolutionaries had to say about what can be done to really change this. One woman said she has three sons who are locked up right now. She said, “I’m glad I got to know more who Bob is and his message. Very inspirational. I’m down with any cause that’s concerned with the world, not with just Chicago, or the U.S. I love the message ‘Revolution—Nothing Less.’ It means ‘come out, be part of something that is going to benefit us as a whole in the long run.’ I think the October Month of Resistance will be a good project, to send the message ‘Stop locking up our youth!’”

Through this picnic, community began to be forged. Individuals of different ages and from different neighborhoods mixed together, sharing food, stories, and deep discussions. One white man who has been part of the BA Everywhere campaign had worried beforehand whether the park would be safe because of all the shootings on the South Side (this seems to have kept others away too). He expressed at the end that he thought the picnic was great and was so glad he had come.

There is work to be done to reach out to all sections of society of all nationalities to be part of and contribute to this movement for revolution, and on that basis break down the isolation and bridge the gap that exists between those at the bottom who have been cast aside and marginalized and demonized by society and other sections of the people.


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