Spreading the Revolution at “Sundays on State Street”:
Field Notes from the Revolution Club, Chicago

| revcom.us


Organizing people into this revolution means reaching out to all sorts of people—not just where there are protests and rebellions against oppression and injustice, but everywhere throughout society—spreading the word about revolution and getting people together (in real life and online) to grapple with why an actual revolution is necessary, what such a revolution involves, and what kind of society this is aiming for. This will enable people who are new to the revolution to themselves become organizers for this revolution and to recruit more and more people to do the same. On this basis, and through the growing ranks of the revolution acting together as an increasingly powerful force, it will be possible to attract and organize the necessary numbers, and build up the necessary strength, to be in the position to do what needs to be done.
(From A Declaration, A Call To Get Organized Now For A Real Revolution)

With “reaching out to all sorts of people” in mind, the Revolution Club has been participating in a free downtown street festival of various types of small vendors called “Sundays on State.” We designed a simple booth (see photos) with provocative visual displays, including a large photo of the flag burning outside the White House in 2019. The table promoted most prominently our two key working documents “A Declaration, A Call To Get Organized Now For A Real Revolution” (and we made sure everyone who came to the table got at least one copy) and BA’s “This Is A Rare Time When Revolution Becomes Possible—Why That Is So, And How to Seize On This Rare Opportunity” along with other literature, stickers, T-shirts. We had TV playing “Bob Avakian for the Liberation of Black People and the Emancipation of All Humanity” on a loop.

We made posters of BA’s “Instead ofs” points and put them up in row on one side of the tent. Quite a few people paused to read them and several photographed them. One woman commented on the Instead of “staying in your lane” and “going for self” because she was very concerned about people being divided up. She also saw a very big problem that so many people were just trying to solve their own individual problems and it was clear to her that this was not going to solve anything.

We also set up a fundraising side table of inexpensive jewelry, and some other items like patches saying “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology,” which had been donated for the National Get Organized for Revolution Tour. We had the poster with the various ways to donate at the fundraising table and learned that about a dozen small donations came into the tour via Venmo from this table. People also made cash donations.

We distributed hundreds of half-sheet flyers calling on people to come to our booth, connect with us on social media and attend our upcoming monthly meeting. The flyer said “Is This You?” with the opening of the Declaration and Call on it.

One of the striking things about this experience has been the incredibly diverse group of people who have come to our booth and signed up to stay connected to the revolution (new ways to draw people in immediately is something we are still working on) after getting the Declaration and the even more diverse and larger numbers who took materials and said they “would check this out further on line.”

A 20 something year-old Black youth from Fort Worth Texas said he had read some Marx but had never heard of BA. He bought The New Communism, BAsics and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America to share with friends back home, saying if he was still in Chicago he would come in person to our monthly meeting. We stressed the national character of this movement and its frequent national Zoom calls as a way to stay connected. A young doctor from Saudi Arabia who is trying to stop repression in his home country signed up after some initial engagement over the Declaration and Call. Two middle aged Black women, one of whom worked in a medical clinic, were so excited to see the article promoting the importance of vaccines (which we had made into a little pamphlet) took stacks to get out to some young people they have been struggling with about the importance of getting vaccinated.

There were several people who came to debate us over the question of whether revolution was necessary. This included people from other countries who have seen what they thought were revolutions go bad. A young woman from Kenya described her experience of intense upheaval followed by intense repression after “a revolution” with a lot of passion. An incredibly passionate young woman from Eugene, Oregon, was convinced that the only way to make successful change was nonviolently and argued that efforts there to send social workers instead of police and volunteers building “homes for the houseless” was the solution.

Most of our discussions were more one-on-one, but there were a number of instances where we were able to get a group dynamic going. A controversy which became a small group engagement, developed when a man argued we should be helping people meet their survival needs now. One club member explained that he, too, used to think that was what was needed and what we should be doing. He used to go to the streets and struggle with the youth to “stop the violence” and try to “meet their survival needs” but what people really need is revolution and our role is to get these youth into that revolution and out of what the system actually wants them to be doing—fighting and killing each other. People need to see the bigger picture. This club member said he used to think we needed to “go local” but now understands “we need to go global.”

Some people from a neighboring booth selling children’s books with African American themes joined in a controversy over the source of and solution to racism when a white woman objected to a sticker we had on our table which said “I used to be a white American but I gave it up in the interests of humanity.” The white woman challenged a Black club member about how he personally was impacted by racism. He argued that racism is not just individual experience but systemic. The Black women from the other booth jumped in and argued that this woman doesn’t recognize how this is systemic.

We met students heading to colleges around the country, including two heading to Yale, young people who had been part of the “beautiful rising” last summer, tourists, lawyers, people in the medical field and more. An African American woman with three kids with her, ages 5-15, who she got RNL stickers to, telling her kids, “OK, you are back in school so here’s your important first reports,” pointing to the show. A young Southeast Asian man who protested George Floyd’s murder by police observed how different the atmosphere on this same street is today, saying, “People need to stop aspiring to ‘normalcy’!” A man of Filipino descent who had been a nurse during the 1990 Gulf War stopped to engage with the “Stop Wars for Empire, Armies of Occupation and Crimes against Humanity” poster which we added to our display after the evacuation of Afghanistan began. He pored over the poster and then he told his story of being in the region during the Gulf War and his anguish over the crimes committed against the people there, Fallujah—he was deeply distressed over the continuing horrors today.

The slogan, “The System Has No Future for the Youth, But the Revolution Does” was quite popular. We sold six T-shirts with this slogan, including to an older Black man from Gary, Indiana, who remembered the ’60s and talked about the need get the youth who are fighting and killing each other into the revolution. A white woman from Pennsylvania bought two shirts for her mixed-race children who are regularly harassed by the police. She said her eyes had been opened to the reality of police brutality by this. Two white teens from a small town in Wisconsin took a stack of stickers with the slogan to post all over their town along with Declarations.

Questions that came up repeatedly included “what are you all about?”, “what kind of revolution are you talking about?” and “who is Bob Avakian?”

Club members staffing the booth summed up that our best engagements were when we worked to engage people’s questions using and even reading aloud to them from the Declaration. We especially used this point from page 3:

revolutiona real revolution, not playing around with a few changes that leave this system in place and in power, while benefiting only a small number. A revolution means a force of millions, drawn from many different parts of society and organized for an all-out fight to overthrow this system and replace it with a radically different and much better economic and political system, a socialist system, based on meeting the needs of the people and carrying forward the fight for a communist world where there will finally be an end, everywhere, to the exploitation, oppression, and destruction of the environment that is built into this system of capitalism-imperialism. Anything less than this revolution will completely fail to deal with the root of all the problems or lead to the actual solution.

We summed up that we could have used the Declaration more for getting into “who is Bob Avakian” reading from point 3 of both the short and extended version. We did direct people to the TV which was playing BA for Black Liberation and gave people the 5.2.6 broadsheet pointing out the piece “BOB AVAKIAN: A RADICALLY DIFFERENT LEADER—A WHOLE NEW FRAMEWORK FOR HUMAN EMANCIPATION. Bob Avakian (BA) is the most important political thinker and leader in the world today” on the back.

One club member also went often to Part 4 about organizing people into the revolution and pages 7 and 8 of “Rare Time” including with people who said that they didn’t see a difference between the Republicans and Democrats and people who said they saw this moment as one of “relief” from the Trump years.

We learned that joining with us at the booth is something newer people felt comfortable doing. Several people drawn to the club have joined us at the booth for blocks of time including a young woman we connected with us last summer who we have not seen since she moved out of state. She came in her club shirt and after a brief discussion walking through the Declaration and Call, she was actively engaging people at the booth.

We are now reaching out to people who signed up with us about coming to our monthly meeting this Sunday and getting further organized into the revolution. Overall this has been a really positive experience and we are looking forward to returning for two more Sundays building on what we have learned.



Bob Avakian (BA) is the most important political thinker and leader in the world today.

Read more



Get a free email subscription to revcom.us:

Volunteers Needed... for revcom.us and Revolution

Send us your comments.