Thursday, December 01, 2011

Carl Dix & Cornel West Dialogue at UC Berkeley

Updated, December 1, 2011
contact:  510-384-1816 (interviews available)

2 of Country's Most Outspoken & Politically Engaged Black Intellectuals to Crack Open Discourse on Dangerous Situation Facing Youth Today; Exploring Pathways and Prospects for Change


WHERE: Pauley Ballroom, UC Berkeley.     Free & Open to the Public

Berkeley, California, December 1, 2011 - In the midst of, and as part of the growing political awakening on college campuses and in cities nationwide, two of the country’s most outspoken and politically engaged Black intellectuals – Cornel West and Carl Dix – will speak at UC Berkeley on Friday. Coming in the recent aftermath of shocking police violence against peaceful student protests at both UC-Davis and UC-Berkeley, this event is shaping up to be a dynamic and powerful one, built for and sponsored by numerous student groups and academic departments. While the repression directed towards youth seeking a more just society has been strong, the movement of students on UC-Berkeley and other campuses has grown more determined and continues to inspire many more here and around the world.    

The event – titled  “In the Age of Obama…Police Terror, Incarceration, No Jobs, Mis-education: WHAT FUTURE FOR OUR YOUTH?” will address issues at the heart of the campus and Occupy protests, the racism and inequalities facing society’s most oppressed, as well as broader issues of moral responsibility, the roots of injustice, and the prospects and pathways for fundamental social change.

Mr. Dix and Dr. West have joined Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy protests, and have recently launched a new initiative against mass incarceration.  In October, they were arrested together with other supporters in an action of civil disobedience protesting “Stop & Frisk” – New York City’s program in which 700,000 mostly Black and Latino youth are illegally stopped, searched and harassed every year by police.   (See, New York Times link, below.) Just yesterday, organizers around this initiative, along with students at Columbia University confronted NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly inside the School of International Policy and Affairs (SIPA) to present him with the “Bull Connor Achievement Award” for "outstanding service to the white community." (video HERE)  

Their dialogue is described by organizers as “a spirited back-and-forth between two of the nation’s foremost thinkers -- one in the spirit of the Black church and liberation theology, and the other, Revolutionary Communist.” 

Some 22 student groups and faculty departments (see list below) are sponsoring the event.  The dialogue has also been announced at Occupy Cal's General Assembly.

A support letter signed by faculty and students, including History and African American Studies professors, and students from African Arts Society, Latin@Sociological Association, Kroeber Anthropological Society, Students for Hip Hop and other groups states:

 “Though differing in perspective, they are joined by their profound respect for each other, their love for and commitment to today’s youth, and their shared desire to crack open the national discourse and foster a spirit of critical engagement and daring to confront the dangerous situation faced by this new generation.....This dialogue will stimulate further moral and political engagement at this time of awakening and activism.”  

CORNEL WEST is one of America’s most provocative public intellectuals and has been a champion for racial justice since childhood. His writing, speaking, and teaching weave together the traditions of the black Baptist Church, progressive politics, and jazz. The New York Times has praised his “ferocious moral vision.” Dr. West currently teaches at Princeton University.

CARL DIX is a longtime revolutionary and a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.  He was one of the Fort Lewis 6, six GIs who refused orders to go to Vietnam in 1970; and then served 2 years in Leavenworth Military Penitentiary for this stand. Carl is a co-founder of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality in 1996.  In 2006-7, he coordinated the Katrina section of the Bush Crimes Commission, and was in New Orleans fighting to stop the destruction of public housing there.  Since 2009 Carl has engaged in a series of Dialogues with Cornel West on the theme of:  In the Age of Obama: What Future For Our Youth?"  Carl is currently leading mass resistance in New York against racially-targeted mass incarceration — the New Jim Crow — specifically targeting the ugly NYPD practice of ‘stop and frisk’  by determined direct action.  And through this, he is bringing forth a new generation of freedom fighters to resist extreme injustice as part of building a movement for revolution.

Initial sponsors include: • Black Student Union • Hermanos Unidos • Students for Justice in Palestine • 100 Black Men • African Arts Society • Students for Hip Hop • Latin@ Sociological Association • Kroeber Anthropological Society • A.G.O.R.A. • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity • Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity • African-American Studies Department • Department of English • Department of Ethnic Studies • Department of Gender and Women’s Studies • Department of Art Practice • African American Student Development Office • Cross-Cultural Student Development Office • Center for Race and Gender • Townsend Center for the Humanities • Ethnic Studies Fifth Account • Laney College Black Student Union • Department of History • Institute for the Study of Social Change • Revolution Books Berkeley • Project Censored • Media Roots • Media Freedom Foundation

The following Professors signed on to a letter of support for the event: Professor Dee M. Bielenberg, Department of History; Professor Ula Taylor, African American Studies Department; Professor Paul M. Rabinow, Anthropology Department; Professor Cori Hayden, Anthropology Department

For more on the Dialogue, the speakers, see: 
 “Protesters of Police Stop-and-Frisk Practice Are Arrested,” New York Times, October 21, 2011,

 Carl Dix, “Why I Am Getting Arrested Today,” Huffington Post, October 21, 2011,

 Cornel West: “Dr. King Weeps From His Grave,” New York Times, August 25, 2011,

 “Cornel West and Carl Dix in Dialogue at UCLA,” Revolution #233, May 22, 2011,