26
Sun, May

Cornel West visits Los Angeles as he runs for U.S. President

Cornel West giving a speech at the L.A. Alpha House in View Park.  Photos by Jason Lewis

Politics

West selects Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles co-founder Melina Abdullah as his vice-presidential running mate.

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Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles co-founder Melina Abdullah hosts “This is Not a Drill” on KBLA Talk 1580 AM, Saturdays at 8 a.m.


By Jason Lewis

Just before presidential candidate Cornel West selected his vice-presidential candidate, he made his way through Black communities in the Los Angeles area.  He gave speeches at The Beehive in South Los Angeles, Bayou Grille in Inglewood, and the L.A. Alpha House in View Park.  Just over a week later, he selected Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles co-founder Melina Abdullah as his vice-presidential running mate.  This marks the first ever all Black presidential ticket in U.S. history.

West, who has been a professor at several Ivy League universities, announced his Vice President candidate while on Tavis Smiley’s radio station KBLA Talk 1580 AM, where Abdullah, who is a professor of Pan-African Studies at California State University in Los Angeles, hosts “This is Not a Drill” on Saturdays at 8 a.m.

“I wanted somebody whose heart, mind, and sole is committed to the empowerment of poor and working peoples of color,” West said of Abdullah.  “Melina has a history of longevity of putting her heart, mind, soul, and body in the struggle.  She’s been to jail many times (while protesting), she’s hit the road many times.  She has a record of deep commitment and investment in ensuring that poor and working people are at the center of her vision.”

During West’s speech at the L.A. Alpha House and his joint interview with Abdullah on KBLA, they spoke about West’s platform, which includes abolishing poverty and homelessness, redistributing money from the military and the rich to help the middle class and lower-class people, providing a quality education for everybody, and ending mass incarceration and over policing.

According to West, military spending is too much, and those funds could be used to help underserved Americans. 

“I’m an abolitionist,” he said.  “I’m calling for the abolition of poverty.  We can abolish poverty with about $220 billion.  And we just authorized $200 billion for (military) planes.  That didn’t even go through congress.  Sixty-two cents of every dollar goes to the military.  That’s the sign of an empire that’s in deep trouble, just like the Roman Empire.  Military overreach.  Eight hundred military units around the world. Special operations in 130 countries.  We go to war and find trillions of dollars, but when it comes to education, health care, housing, school, you can’t find a penny.  Quit lying.  Your priorities are warped.  Our children’s education, poverty, and people’s status in terms of wage earners is as much a matter of national security as those planes that you are building and sending to various parts of the world.  You’re going to lose everything internally given your commitment externally.

“We want to make sure that we have massive resources for education just like we have massive resources for guns and bombs and planes and other militaristic weapons.”

A part of West’s platform is a redistribution of wealth, not only from the military, but also from the rich. 

“There has been a massive redistribution of wealth from the poor and working people to the well to do,” he said.  “America has nothing against redistribution.  Only when it goes down does Americans have a problem with it.

“We want to abolish this greed that we see organized on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley.”

The increase in cost of living around the nation is outpacing the increase in salaries, leading many people to be one missed paycheck away from being homeless. 

“We’re building a campaign where we’re saying that you should be able to have just one job and earn enough to pay your rent or your mortgage,” Abdullah said. 

West’s platform calls for a national $27 minimum wage and reparations for Black people to help close the wealth gap.  The platform also calls for more funding for education.

‘We should have an educational system where education for all and I mean all the way from preschool through grad school should be accessible to everyone,” Abdullah said.

“Student loans should be significantly and substantially canceled across the board,” West said.  “And those who are applying for school should be subsidized because I believe in free public education.”

West’s platform calls for an end to mass incarceration, which unfairly targets Black communities, and the way that people are policed by law enforcement.

“If the precious White brothers and sisters who are flying high in the friendly skies with the drug activity went to jail at the same rate that our precious Black folks went to jail at, and that the White middle-class youth were going to jail at the same level of intensity, there would be a focus on jail reform very quickly,” West said.  “Because it’s their children.  When something affects them, low and behold, now you have a crisis.”

“We can have the kind of world where safety comes from building strong communities, not from putting more police on trains and busses and in schools,” Abdullah said.

West and Abdullah are going away from the two-party system of Democrats and Republicans as they are running as independents.

“Both of us want to disrupt the narrative that you only have two choices,” Abdullah said.  “The world tries to tell us that we’re tethered to certain ideas that we don’t have to be tethered to.  We can be expansive and imaginative.  We can remember that we live in a world of abundance where people can have all of what they need and most of what they want.”

As for their main opponents, West cautions voters against supporting President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump. 

“Trump is leading the country to a second Civil War, Biden is leading the world to toward World War III,” he said.  “We’re providing the alternative.”

For more information about West’s platform and campaign, visit www.cornelwest2024.com