Revolution #211, September 12, 2010
Art Murmur happens the first Friday of the month in an area of the city where many new galleries are popping up to show the work of young artists. Several streets are blocked off and a number of small crafts and food booths are set up, with a small area in the middle of the block reserved for bands to play.
The day we went the crowd was an interesting mix of artists and people plugged into the art scene, mingling with middle class people and Black people from the area. We estimated there were about 400 people who had passed through, checking out the galleries and hanging out in the street.
We started by saturating the area with a lot of the BA image cards. Almost everyone took one and when some of them asked who it was we told them that was what they needed to find out. When people got the cards, you could see them turning them over, obviously looking for a clue about what it was all about and then often looking kind of quizzical. When one guy asked who it was he was told, "You'll find out" and he said, "Good, I love surprises." After thoroughly saturating the crowd with the image card, we set up a table at a good location right near one of the venues with a big enlargement of the image along with a 3'x4' poster with the blurb from the memoir describing BA and the Cornel West quote. We had some of the key BA books on the table and some of us went back out in the crowd with the Message and Call, telling people we had the answer to the question and talking about the revolution we need and the leadership we have with BA. Several people checked out the enlargement of the image and the quote at the table, noted that the image was the same as the one on the card, and stopped by to look at the statement and literature to find out more. The fact that the card did not have text on it definitely intrigued people and opened the door to more engagement, particularly around the role of leadership.
We ran into several people who had heard of Avakian. A couple people said they had heard about Avakian from coming to the bookstore. Another said that he had seen something about the Revolution talk online ("Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About"), possibly on YouTube. None of them had previously known what BA looked like. One older Black guy who had heard of Avakian from the store came over to the table to check out the Memoir because he wanted to see something about BA's life—how serious about revolution was he? He didn't get the book but got a Rev talk card to check him out online.
An interesting exchange happened when two women came up holding the cards. They said okay, what is this all about? After explaining that Bob Avakian was the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, one of the women said "we're not into communism" and started to leave. But her friend wanted to hear what we were saying. We had some discussion and when she left, the two women were heard debating communism.
We ran into one guy who said he had the poster of the image in his house right now. He had seen a display of 35 in another city and really liked it. Since there were so many, he thought it would be okay to take one, so he brought it back home. He only found out who it was when he ran into us that evening.
One guy was skeptical about promoting a leader and said you might need to have a revolution, but if you have one leader, then you'll end up with the same problems you have now. There was back and forth about why you need leadership to make revolution and what Avakian has brought forward. There was debate with some anarchists who said they agreed with a lot of what we say that the problem is capitalism, but they don't agree with having leadership. A few people were intrigued by what we were saying and said they would check out the Rev talk or look up Avakian. Several people raised the human nature question and were provoked by the point that people tolerated the horrors in the world in large part because they had been told that revolution and a radically different, communist world were impossible. We told them we were getting a million of these flyers out to put communism and revolution on the map and acquainting people with this leader who had not only answered crucial questions that made this revolution possible, but was leading a movement for that revolution right now.
One of the vendors said that she had gotten the Statement at a demonstration in another part of the city—that it was "so right on" and that this was what we needed to do—build a movement for revolution. She said that she was very concerned about many of the things that the Statement addressed and felt like it was true that it was a system that had to be overthrown. Another young crafts guy who posted up the Statement at his booth said that he wasn't sure about communism but definitely felt that this was more and more a fascist state. He was quite shocked by Obama and said he was very interested in checking out BA online, especially the Rev talk to see if he thought it would really be possible to make a revolution in the U.S.
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