Zomblog has obtained an extremely rare copy of the first issue of Osawatomie, a newspaper published by the Weather Underground in 1975. Noteworthy passages are reproduced below, along with exact transcriptions. The full pages, with each passage in context in high resolution, are found at the bottom of this post.

Much of Osawatomie, which was written at a time when the Dohrn-Ayers wing of the Weather Underground was transitioning from terrorism to “working from the inside” for revolution, concerns itself with the need to encourage “organizers” who will work in “communities” and use “audacity” to bring about “socialism” in America.

Don’t believe me? Read the quotes for yourself, and see them in context on the full pages below.

Rather than analyze the significance of the parallels between the ideas in Osawatomie, Barack Obama’s personal history as a “community organizer,” and the strategies, slogans and goals of his campaign for the presidency, I will let you the reader decide for yourself.

  The Weather Underground Organization logo in 1975;
  the Obama for President campaign logo in 2008.

As with my earlier posts about Prairie Fire and Obama’s review of Ayers’ book, media members and bloggers are granted full permission to use the images and transcriptions on this page freely and without restriction or attribution.

Many thanks to Zomblog contributors experiencedtraveler and Sharmuta, who did the actual legwork of tracking down and obtaining this rare document.

The following quotes are scanned directly from Osawatomie, with a transcription below each image.

Revolutionaries must be organizers.

There are serious antiracist organizers building a revolutionary base in working class communities — in neighborhoods, shops, mills, mines, social institutions. There are those who are working among women, GI’s, vets, prisoners, among youth, students and the unemployed in every part of the country. There are some who have been at it for years and some who have just begun. Thousands more are needed; and each particular piece of work will have to be linked up into a whole. We need to out-organize the sophisticated and well-financed forces of George Meany, Louise Day Hicks, Ronald Reagan, George Wallace and Albert Shanker. Organizers need to crush this reactionary leadership with a revolutionized torrent of people.

But revolutionaries expect adversity, expect to be fought every inch of the way by an entrenched ruling class, expect to confront danger and demoralization and overcome it, with creativity and audacity.

Theory and ideology are important tools, and we should make study of Marxism-Leninism an important part of our work.

Organizers must be intimately aware of every problem and each injustice, and they must show that underneath each particular problem lies another problem, and another and another until you reach the system of imperialism itself. The system is designed to create problems for poor, Third World and working-class people. Organizers need to find small solutions to small problems and great solutions to great problems. Our solutions should be drastic.

We need to build a successful struggle, strong organization and a winning revolutionary party. This is a process, which will not emerge full-blown from our minds. It will emerge and change and grow from practice. We know where to begin.

It is with all this in mind that we have created OSAWATOMIE, the revolutionary voice of the Weather Underground Organization.

Left analysis is seen mainly in papers circulated among leftists, left solutions are heard mainly in meetings of the left. And what a shame! Because some of that analysis and some of those solutions make sense, describe concrete conditions, prescribe real remedies. Some of that interpretation of events could provide needed leadership in struggle. But isolated from the people, the makers of history and the carriers of change, it is useless.

The immediate task for the left is this: organize the masses of people against imperialism and for revolution. Pull together friends and comrades, whether three or thirty. Explain the roots of the current economic and social crisis. Fight for jobs and for funds for urgent relief programs. Wealth should be taken from the Pentagon budget and used to rebuild our cities, schools and hospitals.


Now comes a time of decision for the left. Can we overcome the small points that divide us? Can we come together to confront the enemy? Can we build a revolutionary practice firmly rooted among masses of people? Can we transform our lives in order to play our part in the developing storm?

These are the questions that press in on the left today. These are the questions because of this contradiction: millions of people are suffering from the crisis and conflicts generated by the imperialist system, and yet the left is small, dispersed and divided, not a visible force in the lives of the people. Revolutionary politics do not have a strong voice. The left is not situated to fulfill its historic mission — to focus and lead and make sense of mass discontent — to carry the present situation to its furthest limits.

… the system itself is inhuman, and socialism is a real alternative; the energy crisis is the fault of Rockefeller and the oil companies, not the Arab people; unemployment is caused by capitalism not “illegal aliens” stealing jobs; war in Indochina or the Mideast is part of the problem, not the solution; political and social action can change things.

… the Weather Underground Organization’s development. Like all our work, OSAWATOMIE is guided by a commitment to struggle, a determination to fight the enemy, the certainty that we will see revolution in our lifetime

Here are the cover and three interior pages from the first issue of Osawatomie, from which all the the excerpts depicted above were taken. Click on each image to see it in high resolution:


Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn have recently written a new book, Race Course Against White Supremacy, which will be published in June, 2009:

In the center of the book’s cover is a hidden design which seems to be an homage to their Weather Underground logo of years past:

Note: The newspaper Osawatomie was named after abolitionist John Brown, whose nickname was Osawatomie Brown. (Commemorative t-shirts here.) John Brown is one of the two figures on the cover of Ayers and Dohrn’s new book.