Who’s Going to Step Up and Fill Mobile’s Shoes?

by Joe Veale, revcom, former member of Black Panther Party

| revcom.us


The following is Joe Veale’s tribute to Willie “Mobile” Shaw at the Watts memorial, December 18, 2005. It has been slightly edited for re-publication.

The death of Comrade Mobile is a great loss for the international proletariat and for our Party. He was full of enthusiasm for revolution and communism, and he was a proud follower of Bob Avakian, the leader of the revolution, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party. 

He was truly an inspiration to all of us. Words cannot describe how much we will miss him. 

When he joined the Party he was already very ill and facing death. But the possibilities for a whole new world were opened up for him. He learned of the great revolutionary potential that the people in the ghettos and barrios in this country and around the world possess. He learned that they are part of the international proletariat—that they have the potential to become emancipators of all humanity—and he went all out to lead them in acting on this reality. This was his dream. This is what his life was dedicated to. 

He said that he did not want to end up broken, living without hope. He said he wanted his life to count for something—to bringing about change for the people. 

He was an internationalist. He would get up in front of a group of Latinos and say to them, 

“I’m the same as you. We speak different languages; we have different cultures but we are the same class of people. It was my blood the police spilled when they killed that 18-month-old baby Suzie Pena. 

“Just because we are Black don’t mean that other people haven’t gone through hard times—see those two homeless white guys over there—if it starts to unfold the way we talking about, even though we don’t know them, I bet you they going to be with us. I see a lot of people—how they living. They might not be thinking like us right now but when the shit comes down, they gonna look and say, yeah! I see what’s happening and join in.” 

Mobile was always talking about how that’s his blood fighting in places like Nepal and the Philippines. 

When he discovered the leadership of BA, his approach to revolution, his vision for a whole new society, Mobile went all out to tell everybody about it. He wanted others to see what he saw; that with this leader we can really bring about a whole new society and world. He was like a kid who had just discovered a great big candy store and he wanted everybody to get some of it. 

As some of y’all know, sometimes Mobile would go nose to nose with you over this stuff. Not out of anger, but because he had great love for you and he wanted you to see that we have a great leader that can lead us to win. 

He was patient. He would give you a break for a day or two—then he would be right back at it again. 

After watching the DVD Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About by Bob Avakian, he said,  

“Man, this is my education. I think people are going to start thinking I went to school or something. I be learning so much stuff, different words, history. The more I listen to Bob Avakian, the more I’m learning. People watch the tape one time and say I listened to it already. No, no, you can’t listen to it one time. You got to listen to it over and over. Every time I bet you’ll think of something new you didn’t think about before.” 

He would open his front door and turn the volume all the way up so that everybody could hear it. He played it for the gangsters, the homeless, smokers, regular working people, church-going people, Latinos—everybody. 

To him Bob Avakian is one of a kind: “No other leader talks the real like he does.” And from him Mobile learned what the new society would be like. Mobile broke it down like this. 

“This system makes people do what they want them to do. In the new society you might only work for four hours and then you do art, science, crafts, or whatever. The masses out here think they are in control of the drugs but the system puts the drugs out here to keep us from thinking and acting in a revolutionary way. People look at the new society like that is unbelievable. But we have the right person to lead us there. There is enough people around the world that if they got a hold of the Chairman and took him up it would be a cold revolution. People need to know that they have a leader like Bob Avakian on their side and they need to stand up for him.” 

And even though Mobile was very ill he went all out in doing this. He was confident that once people understood what he understands that they too will become fighters in the cause of revolution. 

He was a seeding machine. Everywhere he went he was planting the seeds of revolution. The vision of a socialist and communist society; spreading the truth that with the leadership of Bob Avakian we can get to that new society. 

And I would add that we need millions and millions like Mobile too—millions who come from the bottom of society, Blacks, whites, Latinos, Native American, Asians. Those who are the most determined to see it all the way through—like Mobile was—must be the backbone of this revolution. It’s this class of people who have the potential to take it all the way. Until there are no more haves lording it over the have-nots. No more whites oppressing non-whites. No more men oppressing women. No more one group controlling the wealth and power and making others slave for them to make them richer and more powerful. 

Mobile would say that BA is different than all other leaders out here. Other leaders when they speak to you, they speak at you, they speak down to you. When Bob Avakian speaks he speaks from standing with you. Other times he would say, 

“People want to see a change but they say when, how and where. I tell them to look at Mao. He did it. He led a revolutionary struggle for power in China. BA can lead us in doing that too. He’s at work and we have to get to work too. If we don’t get out there and help people see the two sides then the ruling class is going to win.” 

Mobile would get the stores around here to carry the DVD. One time he reported, “The majority of stores around here have the DVD of the Chairman. Three out of five people who have it are surprised that he is talking that way.” 

And he went on to report, 

“A lot of people out here don’t see no leaders. I say we have a leader. That leader is Bob Avakian. People he is speaking to, a lot of them go to church for other reasons (than being a Christian Fascist or Bush supporter—JV). They are looking for something that only BA can give them. I joined the church because of my illness; hoping that I could be healed. Through talking with the Party and grappling with how I am really going to spend my Sundays, I saw the Unity Picnics (picnics promoting unity between Blacks and Latinos that the RCP was part of organizing in the Nickerson Gardens Housing Projects)—getting together on that basis was way better than the church. The only way I can see a change is with the Party.”… and as Mobile would always say: “the Chairman.” 

One of the last things Mobile did was to take part in the World Can’t Wait Drive Out the Bush Regime1 demonstrations on November 2, 2005. There were thousands and thousands all along Wilshire raising this demand. He was very excited about this. He thought about getting up and speaking at it. But he was in a wheelchair and decided not to do it. At one point he was overcome with emotion and the tears started to flow. He was very excited and happy. But he said that there should have been more people from Watts at this. More people standing up and representing the people on the bottom of society—the proletariat—like he was doing. He later talked about how he was doing what he was doing so that people from places like Watts can see that this revolutionary movement that we are building represents them. And he was voicing a little frustration with people being slow to recognize this. 

This brother left some big shoes to fill. Who’s going to step up and fill those shoes? What he dedicated his life to is what we all need to dedicate our lives to. Join this movement for revolution. Join this Party. Build it. Support it. Become a follower of BA. Become part of the emancipators of all humanity and be one of the gravediggers of this foul and cruel capitalist imperialist system. 


1. The organization World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime was formed in 2005. Their mission was to mobilize “people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the U.S. government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.” On November 2, 2005, on the one-year-anniversary of Bush’s re-election, tens of thousands marched around the U.S., inaugurating the effort to drive out the Bush regime.  [back]

Willie “Mobile” Shaw



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