Chicago's South Side: Benefit for BAsics Bus Tour
The Band Leader opened the evening with a shout-out to “the Revolution” and the band broke into the song “What’s going on.” It was an evening of Rhythm and Blues to benefit the BAsics Bus tour, the entire event put together by people whose family members were murdered by police. BAsics 1:13 provided a common focus for the evening. A banner was displayed on the front of the stage with pictures of 25 people killed by the police. The audience was visibly moved when the MC pointed out the picture of his son on the banner and recounted how his son was shot 18 times by the police.
The MCs and the house-band were on fire. The band was high caliber and could have been the studio band for any number of well known R&B artists. And they played for hours! Vocalist friends of the main MC heeded his call and came out. These artists got up to sing and talked about the question of what future for the youth today – here and around the world. They spoke of their hopes for the youth and mixed songs like “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” and “Change gonna Come” with love songs and R&B standards.
The club was decked out for the night with displays of the Bus Tour, BAsics 1:13 and Bob Avakian’s “3 Strikes” statement. A table was piled high with palm cards of BAsics 1:13, the book BAsics, From the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian, the DVD Revolution, Why it’s Neccessary, Why it’s Possible, What it’s all about, “Twelve Ways to Be Part of the Movement for Revolution” and the Constitution for a New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).
The owner of the club attended the event personally and gave a statement in support of “the revolution”, particularly in the context of Trayvon Martin and what is happening to the youth. He donated a number of cakes to the buffet set up by the MC’s wife and the families that had planned the event. The bartenders and the staff all donated when the hat was passed for the BAsics Bus Tour collection.
Throughout the evening the MC spoke about the youth and the revolution and even led people in a cheer for BAsics. (“give me a B, give me an A, give me an S, give me an I, give me a C, give me an S – What’s that spell, what’s that spell what’s that Spell, What’s that Spell).
For several weeks people had been getting out pluggers for the benefit and announcing it at the club and many of the MC’s fans and friends came out, getting copies of Revolution Newspaper and mixing it up with others who were longer term supporters of Revolution.
Other family members actively built for the event. Encountering difficulties getting others to come out, one couple, whose son was murdered by the police, were quiet riding to the event. At the event the mother got up and spoke clearly and simply to her support for the event and how her son had been murdered by the police in a routine traffic stop. She called on people to support the BAsics Bus Tour and check out BA. She vowed she was not going away. After she sat back down, people came up to acknowledge her loss, express support for her battle for justice, and appreciate her determination. The band was playing their kind of music and she and her husband got out on the floor and got their step on.
The mood in the car on the way home was completely transformed. “When can we do the next fundraiser for the BAsics Bus Tour?”
For some people this was an introduction to revolution. One person came straight from discovering Revolution Books on the other side of town and hearing about the benefit. Another person, wearing a medallion shaped like the continent of Africa, came from hearing about the event on the bus earlier that day. There was a mix of people that was rare at the inner-city club, with Black and white people coming together for a common cause. One white professional, upon hearing about the event from a co-worker the next day commented, “It’s like breaking down walls in the city of Chicago.”
One woman, meeting the revolution for the first time, recounted to people at her table how the 1:13 quote spoke to her. She told them that as a teacher in the inner city, even at an elementary school, she is deeply aware of the school to prison pipeline. The club’s bouncer took a stack of 1:13 palm cards to get out to “the youth on the streets whose only future is prison or ending up dead”. One young woman brought her younger sisters to the event. They spent some of the evening drawing posters for BAsics and the Bus Tour. A friend of one of the musicians was at first put off when she saw all the literature about communism at the entrance. “Isn’t that like Hitler?”, she asked. After some discussion with a revolutionary, she decided to check it out. She said later that she had a wonderful time.
As people left they took bundles of the plugger for BAsics featuring BAsics 1:13 to spread around the city. The words of one person captured the feeling of many—“The music was great, it was a good mix of people and it was really fun!” $189 was raised for the Bus Tour.