"The film brings you up close inside Cornel West's and Bob Avakian's dialogue: the passion, the audacity, the science, the morality, the revolutionary substance. Two courageous voices modeling a morality that refuses to accept injustice – pouring heart and soul into standing together challenging all of us to fight for a world worthy of humanity."

Andy Zee,
co-director of the film


BA Speaks

"No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."

BAsics 1:13


Conference Organizers Refuse to Buckle to Demands for Censorship:
Cornel West to Speak at UCLA

May 2, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On May 3, Cornel West will be giving a keynote address at a conference at UCLA, Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: A Conference in Honor of Abraham Joshua Heschel. Heschel was an important Jewish theologian and civil rights and antiwar activist who was close with Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. West has written and spoken about Heschel’s contributions for decades. In response to the invitation to Dr. West, a range of reactionary forces are calling for Dr. West’s keynote speech to be cancelled and for him to be disinvited from the conference because he has spoken out unapologetically against the genocidal crimes of Israel towards Palestine. They distorted his comments and conflated just and accurate criticism of Israel with being anti-Semitic (being biased against Jewish people). This is completely false and is aimed at making righteous and vocal criticisms of Israel a no-go on campuses and throughout society. This also dovetails with the recent hit piece and character assassination aimed at Dr. West in The New Republic magazine.

In this context, it is very important that conference organizers refused to back down from having Dr. West speak. Todd Presner, the Director of the Center for Jewish Studies, a co-sponsor of the event explained publicly why Dr. West was invited and why that invitation will not be rescinded. Also, in response, a number of others came out in vocal support. Following are statements from the artist, Shepard Fairey and Dr. Scott Bartchy (Co-founder & Director Emeritus, Center for the Study of Religion at UCLA). The UCLA Professor Robin D.G. Kelley also tweeted in support of “Todd Presner’s principled stance.”

Cornel West has been one of the most principled and outspoken public voices of conscience and has been consistently vocal against empire, the murder and brutality facing Black and Brown youth, the attacks on immigrants, LGBT people, and all the crimes of this system no matter who is commander in chief. When he comes under this kind of attack, slander, and character assassination, it is crucial that we have his back.


Cornel West facing attacks on free speech:

“Cornel West has been facing attacks recently, including an attempt to block him from speaking at UCLA, because of his criticism of Israel’s policies in Palestine. I stand with Cornel West. I support his right to call out human rights violations and injustice by the Israeli military in Palestine, just as I support anyone’s right to call out injustice on the part of militant groups or the U.S. government. Injustice is injustice, no matter how it is packaged and I admire Cornel West’s courage to pursue justice regardless of the backlash he will endure. I have spent time with Dr. West and even in more candid moments he is outspoken in his quest to shield the powerless from the transgressions of the powerful. His compassion is not biased based on religion, culture or race, which may be the reason those who are usually shielded from criticism take offense at his commentary. We live in a society that claims to protect and value free speech and rigorous discourse. Let’s encourage, not punish, the voices who have the courage to stand up for an idea that may be unwelcome by some... progress has always been catalyzed by such voices.”

―Shepard [Fairey]


“I write in strong support of the decisions made at various administrative levels, especially that of Prof. Todd Presner, Director of the Center of Jewish Students, to continue to include Prof. Cornel West on the program to honor Abraham Heschel this weekend, despite the calls to do otherwise. While the feelings of those who oppose Prof. West’s speaking at UCLA can be understood, their intellectual arguments do not meet the criteria established by the meaning of 'free speech' as defined by the First Amendment to the Constitution as well as by traditional understandings of 'academic freedom.'

"Prof. West is a highly respected scholar and courageously outspoken advocate of social justice in the USA and throughout the world. He has certainly earned the invitation he received to speak in an event to honor Abraham Heschel, one of West’s own intellectual and spiritual leaders."

―S. Scott Bartchy, PhD [Harvard]
Emeritus Professor of Christian Origins & History of Religion
Department of History, UCLA
Co-founder & Director Emeritus, Center for the Study of Religion at UCLA
Former VP of the UCLA Chapter of the AAUP


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