There are so many things to be said about Michael. But I always remember one particular night when we both found ourselves at the same table at a ceremony for fellows at the Gallatin School at NYU. Michael was asked to speak and last minute I was asked to introduce him. He was not excited about being there and told me he didn’t care for the idea that human rights were some neutral objective standards from on high that didn’t take sides. He said he was only interested in human rights in order to take the side of the oppressed. So I made sure to introduce him making it clear who he was and what he believed. When he saw the reaction of these young people to his work and his vision, he realized they were as radical as he was and wanted to be inspired by him. By the time he came up to the podium he was completely animated, the Michael I was used to seeing. And he told a story I will never forget about a friend whose father fought against Franco. The father of this friend knew Sartre and went to visit him near the end of the war. He told Sartre they were losing and would be killed. So Sartre naturally asked then why go back. The father of Michael’s friend said, “You don’t fight fascism because you will win, you fight fascism because its fascism” I never forgot it because it was everything Michael represented and everything he inspired us to be.
Cathy Albisa, National Economic & Social Rights Initiative