REVOLUTION BOOKS was founded by the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and other local supporters to provide an outlet for communist literature as well as a meeting space for events and groups organizing for revolutionary change. Cleveland's chapter of the RCP was one of the founding chapters when the party was formed in 1975. The group, which originally operated out of a workers center on Payne Avenue, drew its political analysis from Marxist, Leninist and Maoist theory. In 1979 local members of the party joined the national party in cities across the east coast in resisting Deng Xiopeng's visit to the United States - arguing his revisionist politics in China were counter-revolutionary. The protests were met by a heavy-handed response from the police that resulted in hundreds of arrests. In 1980 the RCP raised the red flag on PUBLIC SQUARE on May Day for the first time since the Depression as part of a national campaign that prompted over a thousand more arrests across the country. That same year, the party started its national paper, the Revolutionary Worker.
In 1983, riding a tide of support that developed from these activities, the RCP established its bookstore in CLEVELAND HEIGHTS at the intersection of Mayfield Road and Coventry Road, choosing the area because of its diversity, concentration of radicals, and close proximity to a student community. The Revolutionary Bookstore in Cleveland always has made a concerted effort to carry a wide range of material with a revolutionary bent. Groups have met and organized around numerous issues in the bookstore since its opening. In the 1980s a group called No Business as Usual organized against World War III and held a series of protests that temporarily shut down the NASA LEWIS RESEARCH CENTER and stopped traffic on Public Square. In the 1990s and 2000s, other groups based from the bookstore fought and continue to fight to protect abortions rights, to stop the execution of Mumia Abu Jamal, to resist police brutality, and to support Maoist revolutionary movements around the world. The most publicized action linked to the bookstore took place on Public Square in the fall of 1990. Protesting the PERSIAN GULF WAR, Cheryl Lessin, spokesperson for the RCP in Cleveland, was arrested for burning the American flag. Lessin was sentenced to a year in prison for the incident, but her conviction was overturned after she spent over a month in Marysville Penitentiary. Prosecutors appealed the case until Lessin was cleared when the Supreme Court ultimately refused to hear the case.