page contents data-mobile="true" data-tablet-width="1100" data-tablet-small-width="840" data-mobile-width="640">
Log in

Thought-Provoking Dialogue: Dr. Cornel West and Bob Avakian

What If Being Black No Longer Meant Living in a White Supremacist World?

That's one of many questions posed during what was billed as "A historic dialogue between the Revolutionary Christian Cornel West and the Revolutionary Communist Leader Bob Avakian."

Huge Turnout for a Talk Punctuated by Events in Ferguson

Apparently, the prospect of some answers to such questions led people to come out en masse -- creating lines that wrapped around the three corners of The Riverside Church, in Manhattan, on a clear and crisp Saturday, November 15, 2014. They came, filling the Church to capacity – an estimated 1,500 or so -- to hear and see the two men, who would spend over three hours talking about "Revolution and Religion: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion." Before the "dialogue" started, however, the audience discovered that each man would first speak individually.

Bob-Avakian Cornel-West Dialogue Riverside-Church-Exterior-Crowd-Around-The-Corner 11152014 Photo-Credit Revcom 767x400

Line wrapped around Riverside Church awaiting to get in to hear the dialogue between Dr. Cornel West and Bob Avakian. Photo Credit: RevCom

Avakian's First Framing Questions

Bob Avakian didn't waste any time before honing in, finding much to dispute in the Bible and with Jesus, Black Liberation Theology, and what he called "the negative example" of the fight for liberation, namely the Jews and their fight for the State of Israel.

He said, "Revenge may seem sweet, but we need to move to a world that's not like that."

Oppression by any group or individual against another is not the world of change.

According to this self-proclaimed Revolutionary Communist, "If people can't change, nothing can change. But, people can and do change." He then asks, "What if being black no longer meant living in a white supremacist world? What if we didn't have to live in a lop-sided world?"

Avakian notes that just as The Beatles' John Lennon sang, "You may say I'm a dreamer," he believes a just world can be a reality. "We need a scientific method and an approach to make this world a reality....To change the system."

Avakian's Other Questions

How to change the system? "We need a revolution." The good news according to Avakian: Our current system is "the basis for revolution." He reminds us that "nobody had heard of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin..." Interrupting him, several people in the audience began to shout, calling out other names of black and brown men who were killed by police. Several of those sitting in the front pews came from Ferguson, MO, and they among many others stood up, with arms raised, fists clenched, chanting "Hands up. Don't Shoot."

Bob-Avakia Cornel-West Dialogue Riverside-Church-Interior Crowd-in-pews-and-raised-fists-and-arms 11152014 Photo-Credit RevCom 670x400

Audience members with clenched fists and hands in the air, reciting names of black men killed by police and reciting "Hands up, Don't shoot." Photo Credit: Revcom

A year ago, Avakian continued, we didn't know about the children coming from Central America. "This is a system that forces people to rise up against it."

What gives Life meaning? Of all the questions, this one may well be Avakian's core question. He urges us to recognize that we must not justify or accept, for example, that Thomas Jefferson owned and enslaved people because he was living in a society which at that time condoned slavery. Instead he reminds us that "plenty of people knew slavery was wrong and protested it. People see what's possible and take a stand." Avakian urges the same approach with the impending indictment of the Ferguson police officer. Saying he's aware that Ferguson churches are organizing prayer meetings, but that "If you're going to pray, pray that a lot of people are out on the street. Pray that we're not going to take it. Police are putting the lives of our youth on the line every day. They are murdering them every day."

Dr. Cornel West's Questions

More than two hours later, it is Cornel West's turn to speak. He talks for about 20 minutes. And, just as Avakian cut to the chase on how he stands against religion and for the scientific method, based on evidence, not faith; West swiftly voices his own stance on religion saying: "I think he's wrong about Jesus. I believe in the cross" borne against the Roman Empire. To acknowledge their fight against injustice in the American Empire, West calls out to actor and longtime activist Harry Belafonte, who is seated in the front pews, as well as Juanita Young, mother of Malcolm Ferguson – who was killed by NYPD in 2000 –and a champion against police brutality, and Carl Dix, among others. Ms. Young and Mr. Dix are members of the Dialogue's Host Committee,* along with 33 other members, including Emmy award-winning actor Ed Asner; Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin, Columbia University professor, English and African American Studies; Dr. Obery Hendricks, Columbia University Visiting Scholar, Dept. of Religion & IRAAS; and Rev. Stephen Phelps, former Interim Minister The Riverside Church.

West then directs the filled-to-capacity gathering to consider the following four questions:

  • How does integrity face oppression?
  • What does honesty do in the face of deception?
  • What does decency do in the face of insult?
  • What does virtue do in the face of brute force?

His brief speech reveals that the answer to each of the four questions he posed is the same, a "profound commitment of radical love, for everyday people, for the wretched of the Earth." He notes that "historically, black rage has been the threat to this system"; and predicts that "when black people wake up, everybody will!"

The program then concluded with questions the audience wrote on index cards, which Annie Day, the moderator, directed to Bob Avakian and Cornel West. The program was presented by Revolution Books and The Bob Avakian Institute. For more information, visit

*Footnote: "The members of the Host Committee have diverse political and philosophical viewpoints, yet agree that Cornel West and Bob Avakian dialoguing on this topic at this moment will matter and the people throughout society need to know about it." From the Program Bulletin, A Dialogue Between CornelWest and Bob Avakian, Revolution and Religion, 11/15/14

Justice for Trayvon Martin Rally – NYC

WATCH VIDEO: Trayvon Martin Trial Outcome Protest in NYC

Not even the scorching sun and oppressive July heat could stop demonstrators from gathering in New York City to protest George Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The protest was organized by Occupy Wall Street just hours after the jury handed down the verdict.

Justice-for-Trayvon.Still019 Father with Kids resized 600x338

While some, like Valerie Greene, were surprised by the verdict, "I think it's an absolute appalling travesty of justice. I'm shocked." 

Justice-for-Trayvon.Still013 older white woman resized 290x163Valerie Greene

Others like Anyah Jones were not, "I wasn't surprised I know where we live, this is the country we live in. This is the country we've always lived in. I feel like the trial was for show."

Justice-for-Trayvon.Still020 AnyahJones-resized 290x163Anyah Jones

Demonstrators met in Union Square at 6pm to share their frustration over the case and to demand justice for Trayvon. By 6:30pm this reporter joined hundreds of protestors who took to the streets, marching, chanting and calling for those on the sidewalks watching to join them. Some of the most enthusiastic and biggest chants came from the littlest protesters. Four girls, ages 5 through 10 enlivened the marchers with chants of "I am? Trayvon Martin, We are? Trayvon Martin."

Justice-for-Trayvon.Still018 Young Children RESIZED 600X338Ten year-old Hailie Perez (second from right) with her sister and friends at Justice for Trayvon Martin Rally in New York City, July 14, 2013

When asked why she chose to spend a sunny afternoon fighting for justice, 10-year-old Hailie Perez said "I have a father and a little brother at home and they could be in the same situation as Trayvon Martin and I never want that to happen." Check out the video for more reaction, reasons for protesting and why the Trayvon Martin case just might be "our civil rights movement!"

Photo Credit: Kizzy Cox/What's The 411 Networks

Tom Joyner Offers Rachel Jeantel Full College Scholarship

Ebony magazine reported that radio personality Tom Joyner, also known as "The Fly Jock," has offered Rachel Jeantel, a full scholarship to any Historically Black College or University she chooses.

The website Joyner founded,, confirmed the news.

Rachel Jeantel is the friend of Trayvon Martin who spoke to him shortly before he was murdered.

Jeantel spoke to Joyner on his radio show Tuesday morning. He said to her: "If you want to graduate from high school and go to an HBCU, even if it's not in Florida but especially Florida, like Florida Memorial, Edward Waters or FAMU, if you want to do that, I want to help you do that. I will help you get tutors to get you out of high school, tutors to help you pass the SAT and I will give you a full ride scholarship to any HBCU you'd like."

Tonight, July 16, Tom Joyner heads to CNN to talk with evening talk show host Piers Morgan.

What's The 411 TV Releases Its List of 25 Most Interesting People of 2012

What's The 411TV's List of 25 Most Interesting People of 2012 was developed from interviews conducted by What's The 411TV correspondents during 2012

BROOKLYN, NY; December 20, 2012 - What's The 411, an entertainment and lifestyle television show, released today its list of 25 Most Interesting People of 2012.

What's The 411's 25 Most Interesting People of 2012 was developed from interviews conducted by What's The 411 reporters from January 1, 2012 through November 30, 2012. The list consists of celebrated personalities to ordinary people doing extraordinary things to the American people rallying for justice in the case of Trayvon Martin. Many people are local to the New York City metro area, while others are global figures.

"Throughout the years, What's The 411 has interviewed so many interesting people," said Ruth J. Morrison, CEO and Founder, Whats The 411 Networks. "This year, we decided to create our list of 25 Most Interesting People. It wasn't easy, but the reporters and producers narrowed What's The 411's Most Interesting People of 2012 to a list of 25. Some are known to almost everyone and some will be names heard for the first time."

"After developing and releasing our list of 25 Most interesting People of 2012, we learned that the Brooklyn Nets fired head coach Avery Johnson. Coach Johnson's firing was shocking and What's The 411 still stands by its decision to include Coach Johnson on its list. In our interview, we saw excitement, conviction, a warrior's attitude, and a commitment to bringing a competitive basketball team to Brooklyn," Ms. Morrison added.

The people making up What's The 411's 25 Most Interesting People of 2012 fall into the categories of entrepreneurs; kids doing great things; sports; fashion and beauty; health; non-profits; media and public relations; and even a former mob wife. The list also includes the winners of What's The 411's Jay Z Concert Ticket Giveaway, a couple so engaging they should have their own reality TV show.

Below is a list of What's The 411's 25 Most Interesting People of 2012 with hotlinks to their respective video interviews:

1. Marlena Ortiz - a 28-year-old breast cancer survivor who created the non-profit Beating Cancer in Heels to help women keep their self-esteem while undergoing cancer treatment
2. Trayvon Martin Vigil in Union Square, New York City - representing Americans standing up against racism
3. Hal Jackson (Posthumously) - legendary radio pioneer who broke many color barriers in radio broadcasting. Hal Jackson died on May 23, 2012 at age 96.
4. Danny Jacobs - a boxer who survived cancer and is now back in the boxing ring with two wins in two months
5. Magic Johnson - because he's Magic
6. David Stern - NBA Commissioner who bucked the prevailing sentiment at the time and developed a salary system which created many young black millionaires, a rising tide floats all boats
7. Sue Simmons - An iconic newswoman; anchor of WNBC-TV News for 32 years
8. Avery Johnson - the goody two-shoes head coach of the Brooklyn Nets; who knew he had so much fight
9. Billie Jean King - an iconic tennis champion and advocate for gender equality
10. Helen Shelton - an African-American woman who rose to executive ranks within a global public relations agency by providing value to her clients
11. Allan Houston - Assistant General Manager, New York Knicks and a former NBA player now leading the way advocating and demonstrating the importance of fathers through hisFather Knows Best initiative
12. Beauty/Fashion Trifecta: Vera Moore, Sofia Davis and Thomas Lavone: - Vera Moore is a beauty entrepreneur of 34 years in the competitive cosmetic business and now making a huge breakthrough with national distribution through Walgreen's; Sofia Davis, Editor, Fashion Avenue News Magazine; and Thomas Lavonne, an award winning New Jersey based fashion designer and entrepreneur with a celebrity following; known for his exceptional talent in Ready To Wear gowns, suits and fine apparel
13. Leslie Allen - a retired professional tennis player and keeper of the legacy of tennis champion Arthur Ashe through the Arthur Ashe Foundation
14. Alia Jones-Harvey - a Broadway theatre producer putting a new spin on classic Broadway theatre productions, thus creating diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity on Broadway
15. Dr. Devra Davis - an environmental health scientist ringing the cell phone environmental alarm bell16. Cheryl Wills - author and 20 years of making a difference in TV news in New York City
17. Constance CR White - a multi-dimensional fashionista running a magazine for Black women (no disrespect to Susan Taylor)
18. Dionne Williams - a fashion entrepreneur providing a professional platform for emerging fashion designers during New York Fashion Week
19. Alfred Edmond Jr. and Windsor Neckwear - creators of the Alfred Edmond Jr. Bow Tie Collection and other men's accessories; helping men everywhere to stand out while fitting in
20. Terrie Williams - CEO and Founder, The Terrie Williams Agency; author; mental health advocate; and mentor; for her honesty about depression and for mentoring young men
21. Leslie Chang, Scholarship Winner of Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health's Health Science Academy and Winners of Arthur Ashe Kids Day Essay and Art Contest - these kids are definitely going places
22. Pamela Quinzi - a fabulously sensational shoe designer with savvy marketing skills
23. Saffiyah Rodgers and Valerie Morrison - owners of My Girlfriend's Closet - making a business out of a childhood passion
24. Kim Benson and Qadir Muhammad - winners of What's The 411's Jay-Z Concert Ticket Contest - a comedic, smart and sassy couple; they should have their own reality TV show
25. Toni Marie Ricci - survived being married to the mob and now an author and mentor to other women

About What's The 411TV

Based in Brooklyn, New York, What's The 411TV is a division of What's The 411 Networks, a media/news and information company connecting sophisticated multi-cultural audiences through its distribution platforms of television, online, mobile, and social media.

What's The 411TV's celebrity portfolio consists of interviews with Magic Johnson, Beyonce, Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, Danny Glover, Harrison Ford, Samuel L. Jackson and many, many more.

What's The 411 Networks has the largest video celebrity interview portfolio of any Brooklyn-based independent media company.

New Yorkers Hold Vigil for Trayvon Martin

VIDEO: New Yorkers add their voices to call for justice for Trayvon Martin and his family

Hundreds of people gathered for a vigil for Trayvon Martin at Union Square in New York City on Monday, March 26, 2012. Several people spoke to What's The 411 about his tragic death and their outrage over the slow wheels of justice.

Trayvon Martin, 17, died February 26, 2012, after neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, shot and killed the unarmed teen. 

Zimmerman called the Sanford Police Department police at the non-emergency number at approximately 7:00 p.m., on February 26, 2012, to report what he considered to be suspicious behavior by Martin, which he described as "just walking around looking about" in the rain. The police dispatcher tape recorded him saying, "This guy looks like he is up to no good or he is on drugs or something."

The dispatcher recommended that he not take any action, and informed him that police were on the way. Zimmerman reported that Martin had started running. The dispatcher asked him if he was following Martin and he affirmed that he was. The dispatcher informed him that this was not necessary, saying, "We don't need you to do that." Zimmerman affirmed "OK" and said he would meet the police by the mailboxes. However, before hanging up he said "Actually, could you have him call me, and I'll tell him where I'm at?"

Although, Trayvon Martin was unarmed and only carrying a can of Arizona Iced Tea and bag of skittles, Zimmerman claimed he felt threatened by the unarmed Martin and cited Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law as a self-defense claim.
Zimmerman has still not been arrested for the shooting.

Subscribe to this RSS feed