C.L.R. James, “You Don’t Play With Revolution.” Poster/Pamphlet. Bewick Editions (n.d.)

The copy of the poster we hold in our collection.

To the best of our knowledge this is the sole poster that Bewick Editions, Martin Glaberman’s press, published. The poster measures 22 inches by 29 inches and is offset printed on thick white stock. As of 2001, Glaberman was selling poster for $6.00. It is scarce. OCLC locates a holding, at Penn State University library in their Special Collections department, which is an earlier (and similarly undated) version of the document.

Copy of the poster held at Penn State University. This edition has the text “Poster Pamphlet #1/Facing Reality” with the Woodward address at a cost of $1.

The poster/pamphlet is a stunning piece. The text is from an interview published in the McGill Reporter on November 4, 1968. The interview was conducted by Michael Smith during the Congress of Black Writers, held in October of that year at McGill University in Montreal. Glaberman’s publication of the poster almost entirely a replica of the document as it appeared in the Reporter (pictured below). The text on the earlier version, pictured above, has a publication address of Facing Reality at 14131 Woodward in Detroit. The text on the later version that we hold simply states “Poster Pamphlet” on the bottom left and, on the bottom right, states Bewick Editions at the PO Box in Detroit. Presumably the “#1” is removed on the latter version because Glaberman did not print any other posters.

Original publication in the McGill Reporter, available online at the paper’s archives: https://archive.org/details/McGillLibrary-mcgill-reporter-v01-n007-november-04-1968-14617/page/n5/mode/2up

The phrase “you don’t play with revolution” is a near quote from James, as Smith’s interview notes, from his book Party Politics in the West Indies (1962). In 2009, AK Press printed a book entitled You Don’t Play With Revolution: The Montreal Lectures of C.L.R. James edited by David Smith. The book includes Smith’s interview as a chapter. Below we pull out the section of the interview where James clarifies what he means when he says not to play with revolution:

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