Books, Poetry, Films and Music by Friends, October 2020

Family and friends,

I hope this 26th installment of ‘Books by Friends’ finds you healthy and full of determination for the crucial battles that are now underway.

This fall’s list of films, music and books by friends of mine includes items that will bolster your fighting spirits and others that will provide a comforting break when needed.

The spotlight this month is on a poetry-video combination from longtime friend and comrade Gerald Lenoir. Gerald’s second book of poetry, United States of Struggle: Police Murder in America, was published four days ago. It’s a free download in either PDF or E-Book versions, but the author requests a donation to Oakland’s Anti-Police Terror Project. While you are on the website, you can also view a powerful video of Gerald reading one of the collection’s poems, ‘Ultimatum’.  This could not be more timely!


You can follow right up with a musical treat from Sonny Singh as he trumpets the jazz fusion Punjabi language song Mitar Pyare Nu  from his debut solo album Chardi Kala, produced by Grammy winning Wil-Dog Abers from hip-hop/rock group Ozomatliformerly.

Next up is a poetry-dance combination on film from Adamu Chan, a writer and film-maker incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, and dancer Sarah Kim. Secret Ocean is a meditation on remembrance, boundlessness, and the power of bridging the imaginary with reality, the inside with the outside.

Miss Juneteenth tells the soulful story of a determined woman who takes on the burden of representing history and generations of Black women, standing tall despite her own shortcomings. Nate Kamiya is co-executive producer, you can find it on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Prime, FandangoNow and other sites.

Part bio, part memoir, Susan Mogul’s Mom’s Move is an intergenerational film about mothers and daughters, women and photography, remembering and forgetting, and the tension between women’s private and public selves.

The War at Home tells the story of the movement against the war in Vietnam in Madison, Wisconsin where I took to the streets in the late 1960s. Featuring many friends from those days including Susan Colson, Ken Mate and Eleanor Pullen, this work from Glenn Silber and Barry Brown is now available on Amazon Prime Vimeo, Google Play and YouTube.

Just released in 2020, Laughter Against the Machine is a seven part documentary following comedians W. Kamau Bell, Nato Green and Janine Brito as they journey across the U.S, in 2011 before and after the Occupy protests.


Jody Forrester’s memoir Guns Under the Bed: Memories of a Young Revolutionary tells a hell of a story and leaves the reader wanting more. “It is 1969 and Jody is in her late teens, transitioning from sixties love child to pacifist anti-Vietnam War activist to ardent revolutionary… spending three years in the Revolutionary Union advocating the overthrow of the ruling class. In readiness for the uprising, she sleeps with two rifles under her bed.”

M is for Movement is the latest in Innosanto Nagara’s series of Books for Kids of the 99%. In this fictionalized memoir a child born at the dawn of a social movement, is a witness and a participant, fearful sometimes, brave other times. When things change, this child who is now an adult is as surprised as anyone. Inno also has another children’s book coming out next week, Oh, the Things We’re For!, a rhyming, boldly illustrated vision of a better world.

The first-ever graphic biography of the great Paul Robeson charts his career as a singer, actor, scholar, athlete and activist who achieved global fame. Ballad of an American: A Graphic Biography of Paul Robeson features art and text by Sharon Rudahl and is edited by Paul Buhle and Lawrence Ware.

The latest volume by William I. Robinson, The Global Police State, analyzes a world becomes that is ever more unequal and where governments systematically exclude sections of their populations from society though heavy-handed policing. It is an argument for the urgency of creating a movement capable of overthrowing this out-of-control system.

Terry Tarnoff novel, Once Upon a Time in Goa – sequel to The Bone Man of Benares – is now available in paperback, e-book and audiobook versions. The volume continues the story of an eight-year journey on the “hippie trail” through Europe, Africa and Asia during the 1970s; you can find a video trailer of the book here.

For workplace organizers and everyone fighting “Amazon Capitalism,” Peter Olney and Rand Wilson have authored a chapter, “Think Big: Organizing a Successful Amazon Workers’ Movement in the United States by Combining the Strengths of the Left and Organized Labor,” in the new volume, The Cost of Free Shipping: Amazon in the Global Economy, edited by Jake Alimahomed-Wilson and Ellen Reese

Organizing for Autonomy: History, Theory and Strategy for Collective Liberation is newly published by Ben Case and other members of CounterPower. “We believe that autonomous organizations, from labor and tenant unions to councils and communes, are necessary to advance the struggle for liberation.”

Beyond Classical Marxism by Dave Jette, now in its updated final version, draws on five decades of the author’s experience fighting for socialist transformation and presents a vision of socialism that is completely democratic.


December 2020: Marcy Rein, Mickey Ellinger and Vicki Legion give us the story of the fight to keep open the largest community college in the country. Free City! The Fight to Save San Francisco’s City College and Education for All is a lesson-filled recounting of the five years of organizing that turned a seemingly hopeless defensive fight into a victory.

December 2020: F*ckers at the Top: A Practical Guide to Overthrowing America’s Ruling Class by Jonathan Smucker. A weaving together of direct personal experience, practical insights and deep theory by the author of Hegemony How-to.

January 2021: The First Reconstruction: Black Politics in America, From the Revolution to the Civil War, by Van Gosse. Full of never-before-told stories and thorough examinations of political battles, this book traces a First Reconstruction of Black political activism.