My CUNY Law speech led to a torrent of abuse and vitriol, but I have no regrets.

By Fatima Mohammed, The Nation

This past May, I was honored to be one of two students to give a commencement speech at the City University of New York’s law school. Being chosen by my fellow students was a humbling moment, and a reflection of our shared passion for social justice—an ethos that is at the core of CUNY law school’s articulated mission. In my speech, I urged my classmates to use our legal training to protect our communities, and to fight for a better, more just world, one case and one client at a time. I spoke about deep-seated societal injustices, mentioning the brown and Black men who are killed by the state at Rikers, the asylum seekers at our southern border, and the pervasiveness of state surveillance.

MK Member of Knesset Basel Ghattas attends protest with PLO flags, demand liberation of Al Aqsa mosque and occupied territories, solidarityMK Member of Knesset Basel Ghattas attends anti Israel protest with PLO flags, demand liberation of Al Aqsa mosque and occupied territories, solidarity with Palestinians with Palestinians

And I spoke about Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

My classmates and professors punctuated my speech with cheers and applause, giving me a standing ovation as my eyes welled up with tears. It’s a moment I will forever cherish.

My feelings of euphoria didn’t last long. Seemingly overnight, I went from a mostly anonymous prospective lawyer to Public Enemy Number One. I became the target of vicious attacks, predominantly focused on my remarks about Israel. My picture was on the front page of the New York Post. Members of Congress from across the political spectrum smeared me on social media. New York City Mayor Eric Adams quickly joined in. The CUNY Board of Trustees issued its own statement defaming me and twisting my words out of context. Some critics claimed that my remarks made me unfit to join the bar and called for me not to be admitted.

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