It was a gorgeous day and a team from Revolution Books in Honolulu set up a booth at the June 4th Gay Pride Festival at a local beach park. The Pride Parade had just ended, and the atmosphere was festive. Most of the people with booths were selling clothing, jewelry, and health products. A few promoted political candidates and some represented GLBT organizations. Our tent was decorated with red stars and mobiles with the cover of BAsics, from the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian mounted on silver posterboard that caught the sun as they turned. We brought a banner BAsics 1:13, the “No more generations…” quote from the book, and laid it down inside the booth and displayed copies of BAsics next to it. People were immediately drawn to the banner, in the pictures above. We’ve had tables at Pride events in the past, but this was the best ever!
A young guy passing by the booth with his friends did a double-take and then enthusiastically told his friends: “Hey, I just signed a banner with that same quote at Revolution Books in Berkeley. This is awesome! “
A woman and her daughter who were visiting from Iowa asked what it was about and when we showed her information about the BAsics Bus Tour they excitedly asked whether it might come to her city. “We sure need something like that coming through. We live in a college town, but it’s become so conservative that we’re getting stifled. This sounds like just what we need.”
A woman who was into an animated conversation with her friends stopped in her tracks. “No Way! Revolution Books in Honolulu? I go to Revolution Books where I live all the time.” She encouraged her friends to check us out.
A couple in the military picked up BAsics and read a couple of excerpts. We got into how any of the excerpts could be used to dig into what’s happening in the world and why. We pointed to BAsics 5:7, “American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People’s Lives,” and why it was so necessary to dig into it. She agreed and pulled out $10 and bought the book.
People were especially excited to hear that the Bus Tour went to Sanford, Florida. Almost everyone we spoke with had heard about Trayvon Martin. These were people who could envision what it would be like to go boldly into a community that’s polarized and where feelings are really heated. They were surprised and had respect. “Wow, getting out of San Francisco and New York and talking about communism in small towns must really be scary – but that’s what we all need to do. Be bold!”
Dozens of people signed the banner. Six copies of BAsics were sold and many more picked up materials and said they’d go to the Bus Tour website. A lot of young people talked about their frustration around not being able to talk about anything that really matters with most of their friends and how political discussion was so often ruled “out of bounds.” They welcomed political discussion, even when they didn’t agree. New connections were made and e-mail addresses were exchanged.
We left with our banner smash-full of names and feeling energized by all of the great conversations we’d had and with certainty that we’d see some of these new contacts soon. Sure enough, a young woman we met at the festival visited the bookstore the following day.