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The Revolution Books Eclipse Party in Harlem:

“If everybody could see the bigger picture, get knowledge, share certain experiences...”

Crowd of people outside Revolution Books NYC watching the eclipse


A crowd of people outside Revolution Books NYC watch the eclipse, April 8, 2024.    Photo: Special to

On the afternoon of the total solar eclipse in Harlem, some of the first people to take their place in the “front row” of the Eclipse Party outside Revolution Books (RB) was a family of four—two school-age boys, a baby in a stroller and their mom, who told us: "I’ve always wanted to give my boys different experiences about what is going on in space… I’ve told them about how the Earth moves around the sun but they weren’t too sure how the moon plays its part, so it was great you guys gave us pamphlets to tell us how it works and tell us what an eclipse actually is… And I was so happy to see many different kinds of people able to sit together here. If everybody could see the bigger picture, to get knowledge, and share certain experiences… That’s part of the problem in the world, people are so divided…”

Outside of Revolution Books NYC, boy with eclipse glasses watching the eclipse.


Outside of Revolution Books NYC, boy with eclipse glasses watching the eclipse.   

This feeling was echoed by many at this unusual gathering which lasted 2+ hours, with over 60 people taking part—retired neighbors, many on canes, visitors from abroad, people on lunch break from work, migrants from the border, a painter, a DJ, a nail salon artist, a photographer… and several people wandering the streets looking for a cool eclipse happening who found Revolution Books for the first time. Two Pacifica radio (WBAI) producers also showed up, along with several listeners who had heard the on-air announcement of “The Eclipse Party at the Bookstore that Has the Whole World in Mind.”

This Eclipse Party was organized in a record two days… and it almost didn’t happen. A store staffer proposed doing something for the day, others lightheartedly suggested selling cheesecake and moon pies, then someone argued that a near-total solar eclipse is a huge, rare and awe-inspiring occurrence on planet Earth, and a terrific opportunity to bust out with the basic science that so many people are deprived of, as well as the revolution. Will we sleep on it, or will we gather people onto RB’s sidewalk for a thrilling afternoon, and puncture the atmosphere with the new communism vs. all the anti-communist poison and fascist attacks on science in this pre-civil war moment?

We googled the 2017 solar eclipse and found the stunning poster had published back then (and updated for the 2024 eclipse), plus the beautiful letter from a Chicago Revolution Club member who witnessed it. Inspired as well by the BAsics 4:30 quote from Bob Avakian, we plunged into inviting people. 

As 2:10 pm on Monday approached, the red folding chairs on our sidewalk were filling up, and numerous frantic people were hunting for eclipse glasses. After we ran out, a great sharing erupted. What a contrast to the daily dog-eat-dog—everyone present sincerely wanted to help everyone else to (safely) see the sun slip behind the moon.

One participant, a retired woman, shared her deep concern and anguish over the changes in  Harlem, the level of drugs, and of people harming each other. She loved that people came together to share this experience, “… talking with folks you don't know, all kinds of people, all ages, no drama, no beefing over BS. We created our space and way of being."

We played a clip from the interview with Bob Avakian (BA) on "Why is it dangerous to lead a revolution if you don't have a poetic spirit?" about the great need human beings have for awe and wonder, and beauty, and how the new communist society will give much greater scope to this, the imagination and the “need to be amazed.” An RB staffer brought in the challenge to take up We Need and We Demand: a Whole New Way to Live, a Fundamentally Different System, which says: “A whole different way of living is possible: a whole different way to organize society, with a radically different economic foundation and political system, emancipating relations among people and an uplifting culture—all of this oriented to meeting the basic needs and fulfilling the highest interests of the masses of people.”

Bob Avakian on Real Revolution, Its Potential Today, and on the Importance of a “Poetic Spirit”. The section on "Poetic Spirit" starts at minute 20:44. 
from The Bob Avakian Interviews on The RNL — Revolution, Nothing Less! — Show

Another RB staffer addressed the crowd explaining what was happening before our eyes… how it was that the moon was passing in front of the sun. Some kids, trying to get their heads around this, asked him, “Is that when the planets align?”—mixing in a little astrology with the science of astronomy.

One compelling reason we wanted to do this Eclipse Party was to take on the criminal way this capitalist-imperialist system keeps millions ignorant of science and the evidence-based approach to understanding the world. Instead, critical thinking is punished... curiosity stifled… children are taught in school that personal “superpowers” are real and the only road to freedom. Meanwhile, “woke” hucksters insist there is no objective reality, and conspiracy theorists derail people off the road to full emancipation.

We also see a growing hunger in many circles for a scientific understanding of the natural world, how the universe works, how to repair the ravaged environment, how humans and animals think… Some of the more popular date-night and family activities involve lectures and hands-on demonstrations for “citizen scientists.”

Question: Will we take every chance to fight for the basic truth—that science extends as well to societies, which can be changed radically and rapidly… and with scientific, visionary leadership (which we have in BA), human beings could wrench a different and much better future out of this horrific mess we wake up to every day—through real revolution?

For many, that day was the first time they learned not only what an eclipse is and why it happens, but they also learned about the revolution to change everything and the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian. The Revolution Books Eclipse Party cracked open a window; its impact was felt even by some who couldn’t attend—like the astrophysicist we talked to whose favorite image from the eclipse poster was the graffiti on a wall, “THE EMPIRE TOO WILL BE ECLIPSED.”


People look at what religion calls “the heavens.” They look at the stars, the galaxies. They can see a small part of the vastness of the universe, and they can imagine the greater vastness of the universe. Or they can look on a small scale, look with a microscope and see a small microbe or whatever, and be amazed by what goes on internally within that. They can ponder the relation between what you can see with a microscope and what you can see with a telescope. This is an essential quality of human beings. Human beings will always strive for this. Far from trying to suppress this, or failing to recognize it, we can and should and will give much fuller expression to it. 

Communism will not put an end to— nor somehow involve the suppression of— awe and wonder, the imagination, and “the need to be amazed.” On the contrary, it will give much greater, and increasing, scope to this. It will give flight on a much grander scale to the imagination, in dialectical relation with— and in an overall sense as a part of— a systematic and comprehensive scientific outlook and method for comprehending and transforming reality.

—Bob Avakian, BAsics 4:30

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From the genocide in Gaza, to the growing threat of world war between nuclear powers, to escalating environmental devastation… the capitalist-imperialist system ruling over us is a horror for billions around the world and is tearing up the fabric of life on earth. Now the all-out battle within the U.S. ruling class, between fascist Republicans and war criminal Democrats, is coming to a head—likely during, or before, the coming elections—ripping society apart unlike anything since the Civil War. 

Bob Avakian (BA), revolutionary leader and author of the new communism, has developed a strategy to prepare for and make revolution. He’s scientifically analyzed that this is a rare time when an actual revolution has become more possible, and has laid out the sweeping vision, solid foundation and concrete blueprint for “what comes next,” in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America

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