A Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian on Revolution and Religion: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion

November 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


November 4, 2014
Press Contact:  Larry Everest, 212.691.3345,

A Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian on
Revolution and Religion: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion

When: Saturday, November 15, 3:00-7:00 pm (doors open at 1:30)
Where: The Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive, New York City

Why is one of the country's most esteemed, provocative and deeply religious intellectuals dialoguing with the world's most radical revolutionary and important communist thinker?  Why now?  And why are such prominent, diverse and unexpected voices supporting it?

Annie Day from The Bob Avakian Institute, one of the Dialogue's co-sponsors: “This dialogue is historic.  It's a rare chance to see Avakian live and in person.  Bob Avakian is the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party and the architect of a whole new framework for the emancipation of humanity. This will be a chance to hear him speak on the prospects for revolution and what transformations have to be undertaken to truly get free.  Cornel West is an internationally recognized scholar and champion of the oppressed, unafraid to speak truth to power.”

With the fate of the planet in jeopardy, new fronts of war and crisis roiling, as the country awaits the grand jury verdicts in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases and with millions in this country subject to mass incarceration, deportation, and the denial of fundamental rights, this is a  time for these two deep radical voices.  The subject of their Dialogue – Revolution and Religion – impacts the lives of billions of people across the planet. 

Recognizing the import of Cornel West and Bob Avakian dialoguing at this moment on this topic, a unique Host Committee for the Dialogue of an incredibly diverse combination of people has come together. This includes author and professor Kwame Anthony Appiah (NYU); former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass; Dr. Donald Shriver (President Emeritus of Faculty, Union Theological Seminary, NY); filmmaker Robert Young; actors Ed Asner and Peter Coyote; Grammy award-winning musician Arturo O'Farrill; Nicholas Heyward, Sr. whose son was killed by the NYPD in 1994; artist Emory Douglas, the former Minister of Culture of the Black Panther Party and Carl Dix, of the Revolutionary Communist Party and Stop Mass Incarceration Network along with many others.  Statements of support have been written by writers Alice Walker and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Harold Kroto FRS, Professor of Chemistry and Nobel Laureate, the abortion provider Dr. Willie Parker along with residents of Ferguson, Harlem and South Central LA. 

Members of the Host Committee, including Carl Dix, are available for interview (see bios below).

“You’re going to hear agreement and disagreement.  You’re going to hear transgression and convergence.  But most importantly, you’re going to hear two brothers who are for real...”
- Cornel West

“Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human, can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity.”
- Bob Avakian, from the film, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION – Nothing Less!

“What I like really about this dialogue is that it is not the typical dialogue. It is not the typical people. And it is not this very domesticated, careful mode of talking about where we're at and what we need. I think what both Cornel West and Bob Avakian are about is opening up new ground. We're in a disastrous situation. Our state, our liberal state, is in severe decay... So I think we really need to focus in a way on the extreme conditions that are often left out. We are always focusing on the middle, the medium, the mean. We really need to focus on the edges, the horrors that are happening... a more radical way of looking at where we're at, where there are no easy remedies—that draws me...”
- Saskia Sassen—Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology, co-chair Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University

“...A discussion on the role of religion in the struggle for material and spiritual emancipation of the human has never been so necessary.”
- Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Author of Wizard of the Crow

“...Before we are all covered completely in the blood of other people’s children, let us find other ways to be and do. This conversation with brothers West and Avakian will be an opportunity to explore other realms of thought, leading, hopefully, to other possibilities of Direction Change...”
- Alice Walker, writer

“I know both of these brothers...I know how deeply they get into things, and the intellectual integrity and mutual respect they bring to conversations…let me tell you, it's going to be electrifying.”
- Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party, Stop Mass Incarceration Network

“The young guys around here—they need to understand that this could be their chance to put their footprint in the sands of history. There are speeches that Malcolm X made, that Martin Luther King made that have gone down in history. This could be like that.”
- A man who grew up in Cabrini Green, a housing project in Chicago


Host Committee signatories available for interview:

Carl Dix is a co-founder, with Dr. Cornel West, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, and has spent his life opposing injustice. He is a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party. In 1970, Carl was one of the Fort Lewis 6, the largest mass refusal to go to Vietnam by US soldiers during that war. He spent two years in a US military prison for this stand. Carl has been a leader in the fight against police terror and of the annual October 22 marches to stop police brutality. In 2011, he and Cornel West called for mass, nonviolent protest at NYC police precincts with the highest rates of “stop and frisk,” contributing to mass public opposition to the practice. Along with Dr. West, Carl put out the Call for the October 2014 Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation after a series of Dialogues they held nationally, “In the Age of Obama, What Future for Our Youth?” In August Carl joined mass protest in Ferguson, Missouri against the police murder of Michael Brown, and was arrested while standing with the “defiant ones” on the first night of the national guard mobilization there.

Ted Jennings is Professor of Biblical and Constructive Theology, Chicago Theological Seminary, Chicago. With interests ranging across Christian doctrine and biblical theology, his recent writings include Jacob's Wound: Homoerotic Narrative in the Literature of Ancient Israel; Reading Derrida, Thinking Paul; and The Insurrection of the Crucified.

Philip Kitcher is John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. He is the author of twelve books and was the first recipient of the Prometheus Prize awarded by the American Philosophical Association for "lifetime contribution to expanding the frontiers of research in philosophy and science." He is also the winner of many other awards, most recently the Award for Distinguished Service to the Columbia Core Curriculum, the Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award from Columbia University, the Lannan Foundation Notable Book Award, and the Friend of Darwin Award (given by the National Committee on Science Education).

Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Co-Chair, The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University.  She is the author of over six books which have been translated into over 20 languages. Her newest book is Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy.  She has received diverse awards, from multiple doctor honoris causa to being chosen as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy and receiving the 2013 winner of the Principe de Asturias Prize for the Social Sciences.


Sponsored by: Revolution Books, NY and The Bob Avakian Institute
Media Sponsor: WBAI Radio, NY
Tickets: General $25, Students/youth/unemployed/underemployed $15,
Premium Benefit Tickets $100, Premium Benefit Tickets $250
Tickets and information online or at Revolution Books, 146 W. 26 Street, (212) 691-3345
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For more information on the Dialogue and speakers, go to


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