May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution Books in New York City—the flagship Revolution Books nationally—closed on Saturday, May 23, to pack up and prepare to move as soon as funds are raised to re-open and the new location secured.

The weekend of May 17-19 saw an important first step in the battle to save and move Revolution Books as the store came alive with three afternoons and evenings of music, readings, poetry, and comedy. Tables of used books spilled out onto the sidewalk. Hundreds of people, old friends and new, came through in response to the Revolution Books EMERGENCY call for the “In-Person Crowd-Funding Weekend to Save and Move Revolution Books.” People bought books, folks from Harlem baked and brought cookies and brownies to raise funds, artists performed and donated work, and of great importance, the initial goal of raising $5,000 over the weekend was raised, beginning the drive for the $150,000 needed to move Revolution Books.

sample image

Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber

The spirit was celebratory, serious, funny, defiant, and determined. There were magical moments when people felt deeply, together, what it meant to have this completely unique place that provides the space and the challenge to get into the books, the conversation, the debate, the art, and the science of why the world is such an unrelenting horror for most of humanity, and how this could all be so radically different with revolution. There was a palpable collective sense of what that different world could be like—as people created and witnessed all kinds of performances, laughed, talked, debated, ate wonderful home-baked cookies and brownies, looked at and bought great books, got serious and started reaching out to their friends to tell them just what is going on here and why they have to be part of making sure this will not be lost. And, at the close of Sunday evening, the young MCs, the musicians, and audience cheered and hooted as the last five, 10, and 20 dollar bills and credit cards came out of pockets to put the donations over the top.

With the $5,000 raised this weekend as well as other donations before and since, an important, if small, beginning was made in the major funding that is needed to save and move the store. Dozens from all walks of life and of all ages have donated so far, from a “change jar” that added up to $60 collected from many basic people in Harlem, up to a few generous contributions and loans from people who love this store. What most stood out on this weekend were the words, sentiments, and understanding that were expressed about what Revolution Books means now and in the future: why it matters and why it absolutely must not be lost.

Several performers lamented the demise of many important cultural and intellectual venues and bookstores in New York City. Andy Zee, the spokesperson for Revolution Books in NYC, acknowledged this ... but set a different tone of determination—that Revolution Books will not be lost, it will re-open in Harlem. He helped people see that this is because people like those who came together at RB last weekend can reach out to many thousands more who live in this world—with all its outrageous injustice and devastation—and who can be won to see the difference that Revolution Books makes. That a future without a flagship Revolution Books is a world deprived of the place where revolution reaches out and engages the whole world.

This was not only a declaration of intent, but was living throughout the whole weekend.

A story: A fine poet, Brad Walrond, read a new piece: “Time Travel.” The background to the poem is that Brad had not written for several years. After grand juries in Ferguson and New York failed to indict the police who murdered Michael Brown and Eric Garner last November, Revolution Books hosted an incredible evening of poetry and music with Saul Williams, Jessica Care Moore, Faith Ringgold, Carl Hancock Rux, and Outernational. Inspired, Brad went home and all that he had been feeling poured into this poem that he wrote through the night. Then, last weekend, at the farewell to RB on 26th Street, the audience was transfixed as Brad debuted the poem, accompanied by Mikel Banks of Burnt Sugar.

When Brad finished, Andy Zee drew some threads from the evening together:

I just took in Brad’s poem ... he talks about being invisible; the people who are rendered invisible. Let me tell you, this store is about the people who have been rendered invisible, here and around the world, becoming not only visible but potentially becoming the emancipators of humanity, so everybody all over the planet can actually realize their potential, in a collective framework. At Revolution Books, revolution is not something of the past, it is something of the present and future, something we are actually working for right now, today, in preparation for a time when it might actually be possible.

If you look honestly at the world today, if you look at people fleeing North Africa and drowning in the sea; if you look at the situation of Black people being killed in this country every day and the mass incarceration of Black and Latino people; if you look at the planet being destroyed, it should occur to you that this system is in deep trouble! And there is the possibility, if people work on this in the right way, that we could change all this! It is an insane and criminally absurd world we are living in right now.

Performers at the In-Person Crowd-Funding Weekend

Comedian Aladdin

Poet-Singer-Songwriter Jessica Delfino

Comedian Elsa

DJ Frei Speech

Poet Sparrow

Poet Brad Walrond

Singer songwriter Steff Reed

Singer-songwriter Brett from the band American Anymen

Singer-songwriter Frances Rex from the band Boyz

Robin and the Lady Poet

Revolutionary artist Dread Scott

Industrial band Onyx Immaculate

Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber

And others!

What Revolution Books brings to this situation is the ability for people to engage the books, the artists, the scholars, the scientists—and most of all the movement for revolution and the new synthesis—the new understanding of the science of communism—that’s been developed by Bob Avakian. And we’re able to mix that up and look at all that and find out how the world can be radically transformed and be at the center at the movement that could make that real.

Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber, an extraordinary “Gotham based ensemble of pan-ethnic sound warriors; every one of them a border-crossing trans-national whether they’ll admit it or not...” as founder Greg Tate put it on their website, played on Saturday and Sunday nights, with their vocalists picking up books from the shelves and chanting and singing and reading on top of improvised, inspired wildness with deep funk propelling it forward. Sunday night’s vocalist, Karma Mayet Johnson, commented: “Only at Revolution Books could you go pull a book off the shelf and just read!”

An inspiring thread that ran through the weekend were the MCs, the hosts. Mainly young people, they told of how their lives had been changed at Revolution Books. A member of the Revolution Club said that before coming to New York, he had lived and studied in China, but he came back and attended a program at the store on China: “and learned more in 45 minutes at Revolution Books about the Chinese revolution than in 10 years of studying Chinese language and culture.” He made the connection between the lies that had been told about the history of this country—slavery and the genocide of the native peoples—and the lies about the aims and accomplishments of the Chinese revolution before it was defeated and reversed in 1976. He said that after that “all sorts of things started to unravel.”

People spoke of how their personal relationships had changed—now infused with talking and arguing about the big questions. A young designer who threw in to organize the weekend said: “It’s one of the only places in this city or anywhere, where people can come together and ask questions about how to get this country out of the hell it’s in.... Where people take it seriously and engage in the problems of people who are struggling in real ways, trying to lift us out of a dark place, and haven’t given up.”

One MC told of being “so annoyed” that people at RB would constantly ask “What do you think?” But thinking about it, she said: “What would it look like, what kind of change would it bring about in the world, if people asked that question of each other and actually came up with ideas and went out and executed them? This place is like a microcosm of that kind of conversation going on over and over and over again, about different questions and topics.” Andy Zee commented that how we “think about thinking” is a critical part of the new synthesis and the critical scientific approach to everything at RB, quoting Bob Avakian: “What people think is part of objective reality, but objective reality is not determined by what people think.” (BAsics 4:11)

A statement written by a young woman member of the NYC Revolution Club after she reflected on being an MC on Friday night was read Saturday evening. She ended with this:

We give, give, give to all kinds of crap all of the time, and I say this with no judgment because indeed we do have to live in this horrible exploitative world alongside our burning to change it. But, instead of say, buying cage-free chickens here or there, or buying American made clothing, or local vegetables in an attempt to be free or under the illusion that those choices will free us, you can really DO something with your money! You can sustain a bookstore that is a part of a movement of ending all of oppression and in doing so opens its doors to anyone and everyone who wants to lift their head, raise their fist, and, yes, put on their reading glasses and critical thinking hat. This is the MOST important thing you can do with your money and this is why I gave to Revolution Books! And I did dig deep because I know just how tragic it would be if New York City lost Rev Books, and how tragic it would be in the movement for revolution if this space were lost! Because until we reach a day where money is obsolete, where the exchange of goods for money is a thing of the past, where Rev Books is never being threatened to close, then we CAN and MUST fight like hell for this bookstore, just as they have fought like hell for you, and continue to fight (and critically think) like hell for all of humanity. Give, give, give. Sustain for $5 a month (or if you can give, give more!) and become a friend of the store. It felt amazing to know I was giving my money to something bigger than myself. Make an investment in the future of humanity and help save Revolution Books!

Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.



"The film brings you up close inside Cornel West's and Bob Avakian's dialogue: the passion, the audacity, the science, the morality, the revolutionary substance. Two courageous voices modeling a morality that refuses to accept injustice – pouring heart and soul into standing together challenging all of us to fight for a world worthy of humanity."

Andy Zee,
co-director of the film


BA Speaks

"No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."

BAsics 1:13

Do you know anyone else—any person or organization—that has managed to bring forth an actual PLAN for a radically different society, in all its dimensions, and a CONSTITUTION to codify all this? — A different world IS possible — Check out and order online the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).

What Humanity Needs

At the beginning of 2012, an in-depth interview with Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, was conducted over a period of several days by A. Brooks, a younger generation revolutionary who has been inspired by the leadership and body of work of Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism this has brought forward.

Special Issue

People need the truth about the communist revolution. The REAL truth. At a time when people are rising up in many places all over the world and seeking out ways forward, THIS alternative is ruled out of order. At a time when even more people are agonizing over and raising big questions about the future, THIS alternative is constantly slandered and maligned and lied about, while those who defend it are given no space to reply.

Contains Interview with Raymond Lotta, Timeline of The REAL History of Communist Revolution, and more...