Tom McEvoy, the Director of Minerva Programs, sent out an email on Feb. 12 to the student body announcing the visit of political activist and notable academic Cornel West, who will be visiting campus on March 3. Prior to West’s visit, multiple events will be held at the Green, Wold and Sorum Minervas to discuss his work.
The events are advertised as incredible opportunities to learn more about a person who is well-known in modern media and political studies, but a large question arose around campus on who is Cornel West.
Let’s start with the basics: Cornel West was born in Tulsa, Okla., but grew up in Sacremento, Calif., and after high school, attended and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1970.
He majored in eastern languages and civilizations.
Cornel’s father was a baptist minister in the Sacramento region and from him, he learned about the importance of virtue and self-righteousness. West then enrolled at Princeton University.
By 1980, he had earned both a master’s degree and a doctorate in philosophy from Princeton University and went about in making sure that all those degrees would be put into practical use the way he saw fit.
West began his working career as a lecturer. The schools he first taught at include Harvard, New York City’s Union Theological Seminary, the University of Paris and Yale University’s Divinity School.
West accepted a religion professorship at Princeton University in 1988. Following at six-year stint at Princeton, he chose to become a professor of African-American studies at Harvard.
A 2001 feud with Harvard’s then-president, Lawrence H. Summers, former Treasurer Secretary under George W. Bush, ended with West relocating to Princeton.
West later opted to return to Union Theological Seminary. In 1982, West’s “Prophesy Deliverance: An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity” was published.
During the rest of the 1980s and early 1990s, West released more books that touched on philosophy and religion, such as “Prophetic Fragments: Illuminations of the Crisis in American Religion” and “Culture and The Ethical Dimensions of Marxist Thought.”
West’s work also addressed racial and sociopolitical phenomena. The writings in the best-selling book, “Race Matters,” focused on the plight of struggling African Americans.
West’s major written works have since included “The Future of the Race,” which was written in 1997 and has become a recurring theme in all movements and issues he supports and involves himself with.
West participated in civil rights demonstrations with his family in Sacramento, and from what he recalls, they were some of the most prominent moments in his life because he saw how a grassroots movement can do so much to bring about change in what he calls “oppressed” areas.
Even as a professor at Yale University, West took part in protests against South Africa’s apartheid regime, and was subsequently arrested.
West is politically affiliated with the Democratic Socialists, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that he recently endorsed Bernie Sanders for President. West has been supportive of the party since 1982.
West campaigned for Barack Obama during his first presidential run, but later stated in media outlets that Obama was “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats” in 2011.
However, during the 2012 presidential election, West stated that he preferred Obama over Mitt Romney, which, given the options, was a clear choice for Cornel West.
West is often seen in daytime news shows sparring with other individuals who may be objective to movements such as Occupy Wall Street or Black Lives Matter.
In some points, he may seem controversial and a bit of a radical as well, however in all his appearances he maintains the air of a gentleman and prefers to discuss things in an intellectual manner.
Whether it’s Bill Maher, Sean Hannity or Megyn Kelly, he’ll always charismatically refer to his colleagues on either end of the political spectrum as “my brother” or “my sister.”
In an interview with Cornel West, talk show host Bill Maher once said, “I know, I know, everyone’s your brother — he’s your brother.”
Even Sean Hannity, conservative talk show host on Fox News said, “I don’t know why I like you, but I do.”
Whatever your views on Cornel West may be, he is definitely an interesting and well-spoken individual on the far left of many issues.
You can eat and have a conversation about West on Feb. 29 at Wold House during common lunch, March 1 at Sorum House during common lunch and March 2 at Green House for dinner at 5:30 p.m.
West will speak at the Nott Memorial on March 3 at 5 p.m. to discuss his new book, “Democracy Matters.”
Correction, 2/21/16: An earlier version of this article gave the wrong title for Tom McEvoy. McEvoy serves as the Director of Minerva Programs at Union.
Correction, 2/21/16: This article originally stated that Cornel West would be participating in events about his work to be held at Minerva Houses. West will only be present at his talk at the Nott on March 3.