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Sunday, September 19, 2021
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Cornel West will kick off School of Medicine’s first annual anti-racism lecture series

Famed political philosopher and activist will speak in Zoom lecture series hosted by the Jacobs School of Medicine

<p>The soon-to-be annual lecture series, which commenced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recent social justice movements, will focus on mitigating racism and inequity in health care.</p>

The soon-to-be annual lecture series, which commenced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recent social justice movements, will focus on mitigating racism and inequity in health care.

Cornel West, a bestselling author most well-known for his anti-racism activism in the U.S., will speak via Zoom on Feb. 18 as part of the UB Department of Surgery’s newly launched “Beyond the Knife” lecture series. 

The soon-to-be annual lecture series, which commenced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recent social justice movements, will focus on mitigating racism and inequity in health care. The initiative is funded, in part, by UBMD Surgery and by donations to UB’s Department of Surgery Health Equity and Social Justice Fund, according to a UBNow article. 

A UBMD spokesperson did not comment on the cost of the speech, citing contract obligations.

The event is free and open to the public. An optional donation to the Department of Surgery’s Health Equity and Social Justice Fund is made available upon registration.

“The UB Department of Surgery is committed to sustained action toward a more diverse and equitable world,” Steven Schwaitzberg, president of UBMD Surgery, said in a statement. “Inviting Dr. West — the preeminent voice on this topic for 40 years — is a demonstration of the seriousness with which we approach this task. Creating an annual endowed lectureship, paired with a slate of robust new initiatives, is a demonstration of our long-term commitment.”

West was chosen as the series’ inaugural speaker by a panel of 45 surgeons from UBMD surgery, according to Schwaitzberg. 

“We asked if we were going to kick-off this lectureship, who would have the most impact?” Schwaitzberg said. “Immediately, Michael Lamb, director of education from the Department of Surgery said he had seen [West] speak and is spectacular … Lamb reached out to West’s team and got him.”

West, the author of over 20 books including “Race Matters” and “Democracy Matters,” is a prominent left-wing thinker on the topics of race, class and gender. West is an outspoken critic of capitalism and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, where he serves as an honorary chair. West also frequently appears on media outlets including CNN, C-SPAN and Democracy Now as a commentator on racial and social issues. 

More recently, West has praised the Black Lives Matter movement as a “turning point” in American politics. 

“The magnificent moral courage and spiritual sensitivity of the multiracial response to the police killing of George Floyd that now spills over into a political resistance to the legalized looting of Wall Street greed, the plundering of the planet and the degradation of women and LGBTQ+ peoples means we are still fighting regardless of the odds,” West said in a column for The Guardian.

In November, West spoke on Zoom as the keynote speaker for an event hosted by the Western New York Peace Center. According to an article by WBFO, West spoke on his contention that America is “suffering from a rotten soul” and expressed concern that then President-elect Joe Biden’s “neoliberal policies” would do little to address this issue. West urged listeners to “put pressure” on Biden to advocate for social and political change. 

Brendan Kelly is the assistant news editor and can be reached at brendan.kelly@ubspectrum.com or on Twitter @bpkelly5

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