New York BA Everywhere Dinner:
Celebrating the Dialogue and a Whole New Culture That Is About Getting Free

December 29, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers:

There were 80 of us at New York’s BA Everywhere dinner on Sunday, December 15: people who have been part of the protests against the police murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY, and the refusal of the grand juries to indict the killers; from the projects in Harlem; from Staten Island; from high schools and colleges; from churches. There were ex-prisoners, and there were parents who had lost children to police murder. Some people had been part of the “Millions March” in NYC the day before, including some who had kept marching into the wee hours of Sunday morning, many miles from Manhattan, to where Akai Gurley had been killed in the Pink Houses projects in Brooklyn by a cop who shot him as he stepped into the building’s stairway after visiting his girlfriend. Others had come after being part of the national demonstration against police brutality in Washington, DC, on Saturday.

About half the group had attended the November 15 Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian (BA), “Revolution and Religion: the Emancipation of Humanity and the Role of Religion,” at Riverside Church. Others had seen the video of the Dialogue simulcast online since, and still others had just learned about the Dialogue and the movement for revolution in recent weeks.

We were all ages and nationalities. People have come into this all different ways and are also learning and getting into different aspects of the movement for revolution. There were young people and people from all walks of life who have run with the Revolution Club and with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, who know and have been at events at Revolution Books, who were part of or followed the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride in Texas over the summer.

People came in and pitched in from the first minute—from carrying chairs up several flights of stairs to decorating the space and the tables. One young woman described hearing mothers who were meeting each other for the first time, talking as they were decorating the room about what they and their children experience with the police and the jail system. One of the moms said: Now we can fight this together and support each other. The other responded: Now we are HERE. There was a new and different “we”—a real feeling of belonging, a connection and something new happening here, a culture that was different and uplifting because it was about a whole different way people and society can be, with revolution!

At the core of the dinner were short film excerpts of BA and Cornel West from the November 15 Dialogue, followed by challenging comments in a talk about going forward, “The Time Is Now! Experience, dig into, spread, and support this Dialogue getting out in the world.” Folks were excited and responsive to the clips of BA and Cornel West onscreen: from BA’s “What if the world doesn’t have to be this way?”—reframing the horrors of the world as it torments and confines life today, as questions of what could be, and providing people with a materialist morality and a vision of what could be—to the clips of the last two questions posed to BA and Cornel West from the audience and their responses: “What lessons in life did you learn the hard way? What is the wisest thing anyone’s said to you?”

People’s responses as they watched the clips, and heard the talk, were vocal and connected to both BA and Cornel West on screen. A middle-aged Black man who has been watching the Dialogue online commented on how moving it was to hear BA speaking the truth about what Black people experience day in and day out, but just isn’t talked about. Others who had been at the live Dialogue commented about how rich it is to go back and watch it again. People felt how transformative seeing this Dialogue can and should be for many, many people at this moment—when eyes and hearts are opening, people are finding their voice and their courage, confronting big questions like what will it take to end the oppression of Black people and the murder and incarceration of our youth.

People took initial stacks of palm cards promoting the Dialogue and samples of beautiful fundraising cards.

There was delicious food, much of it contributed by people who came from all over the city and beyond, and from diverse cultures. There were great live performances of a Mexican revolutionary song with ukulele by a member of the Revolution Club, and a passionate rendition of Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness”—a change in plan after the singer had seen the part in the excerpts of the Dialogue that were shown where Bob Avakian and Cornel West talk about the differences between the culture of the ’60s and the dominant culture now, with Cornel remarking about how there was a “tenderness” in the culture then that is missing now, and BA remarking that it’s not weak to love.

Artwork donated to and shown at Revolution Books the week before as part of the artists’ expression “Ferguson is Everywhere—It’s Right to Rebel” lined the walls along with images of BA and enlargements of posters from

Everyone present was part of a room charged with a fighting spirit and with real hope borne of learning more about BA’s revolutionary solution. Getting into BA and spreading the Dialogue far and wide were explored and dug into... and there was a very exciting and elevated feeling of community! People left into the night alive with anticipation and determination for 2015—to change the world.

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