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Tue, 06.02.1953

Cornel West, an orator of an intelligent soul

Cornel West

Cornel West, an African American scholar and activist, was born on this date in 1953.

Born in Tulsa, OK, he is one of America's most prominent Black intellectuals.  West earned a B.A. from Harvard University and his M.A. and Ph.D degrees from Princeton University.  His first book, Prophesy Deliverance! An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity (1982), sought to fuse Christianity and Marxism. He taught religion and directed the Afro-American Studies Department at Princeton prior to joining the Harvard faculty in 1994. There, West became the Alphonse Fletcher Jr., University Professor.

Among his other many books are the two-volume Beyond Eurocentrism and Multiculturalism (Common Courage Press, 1993); The Cornel West Reader (2000); Breaking Bread (South End Press, 1991); Race Matters (Beacon Press, 1993); Keeping Faith (Routledge, 1993); Jews and Blacks: Let the Healing Begin, co-authored with Michael Lerner (Putnam Books, 1995); and Restoring Hope: Conversations on the Future of Black America (Beacon Press, 1997).

West is a respected and popular lecturer. His speaking style, forged in the Baptist Church, provides a blend of drama, knowledge, and inspiration. A noted social and economic philosopher, he has taken his struggle for racial equity into the national spotlight. A compelling orator and a noted commentator, West supports Blacks and whites to explore their past and find common ground.  He has researched the issues facing urban African Americans and created a dialog between Blacks and Jews with Jewish journalist Michael Lerner.

Professor West's philosophy is not a theoretical discipline but an attempt to increase the scope of individual development and democratic actions. His work grew from his Oklahoma roots, American transcendentalism and literature, the Black Panthers, and European philosophy. He has recorded two hip-hop-flavored spoken- word CD's, Sketches Of My Culture, and Street Knowledge. He seeks to revive the best of liberalism, populism, and democratic socialism. West returned to the Princeton Department of Religion in 2002. He has recently written another book titled, Democracy Matters: Winning The Fight Against Imperialism.

From 2010 through 2013, West co-hosted a radio program with Tavis Smiley, called Smiley and West.

Reference:
The Encyclopedia Britannica, Fifteenth Edition.
Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.
ISBN 0-85229-633-0

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