Cornel West

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Cornel West
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{{short description|African-American philosopher and political/civil rights activist}}{{Use mdy dates|date=April 2013}}

Tulsa, Oklahoma>Tulsa, Oklahoma, US| death_date = | death_place = | residence = | occupation = Sacramento, California>Sacramento, California, US
  • Hilda Holloman ({{abbr|m.|married}} 1977; {{abbr|div.|divorced}})BOOK, West, Cornel, Ritz, David, David Ritz, 2009, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, New York, SmileyBooks, 95, 107, 978-1-4019-2677-9,
  • Ramona Santiago ({{abbr|m.|married}} 1981; {{abbr|div.|divorced}} {{circa|1986}})BOOK, West, Cornel, Ritz, David, David Ritz, 2009, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, New York, SmileyBooks, 117–119, 139, 978-1-4019-2677-9,
  • {{marriage|Elleni Gebre Amlak|1992}}BOOK, Russell, Dick, 2009, Black Genius: Inspirational Portraits of African-American Leaders, rev. large print, New York, Skyhorse Publishing, 221, 978-1-60239-369-1,
}}| partner = | children = | parents =| awards = | website = {{official URL}} Harvard University | Princeton University}}| thesis_title = Ethics, Historicism and the Marxist Tradition| thesis_year = 1980 NeopragmatismPragmatism – Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy existentialism > Africana philosophy historicism > democratic socialism radical democracy > BaptistsWEST LAST2=RITZ AUTHOR2-LINK=DAVID RITZ TITLE=BROTHER WEST: LIVING AND LOVING OUT LOUD PUBLISHER=SMILEYBOOKS ISBN=978-1-4019-2677-9, }}| doctoral_advisor = | academic_advisors = }} African-American studies | philosophy}}| sub_discipline = Union Theological Seminary (New York City) > Yale University Harvard University > Princeton University}}Leah Hunt-HendrixNOVEMBER 22, 2016 URL=HTTPS://MEDIUM.COM/INVESTED-IMPACT/INNOVATOR-INSIGHTS-LEAH-HUNT-HENDRIX-FOUNDER-OF-SOLIDAIRE-NETWORK-8E30F81ED48 ACCESS-DATE=FEBRUARY 18, 2019, | notable_students = Political philosophy philosophy of religion > ethics race (classification of human beings)>race democracy > liberation theology}} Race Matters (1994) | Democracy Matters (2004)}}| notable_ideas = | influenced = | signature = | signature_alt = }}Cornel Ronald West (born 1953) is an American philosopher, political activist, social critic, author, and public intellectual.WEB,weblink Cornel West: Public Intellectual, November 4, 2004, Salim, Muwakkil, May 21, 2017,, WEB,weblink Well-Known Public Intellectual Cornel West at Whitman December 4, November 19, 2003, Lenel, Parish, May 21, 2017, Whitman College, The son of a Baptist minister, West focuses on the role of race, gender, and class in American society and the means by which people act and react to their "radical conditionedness". A radical democrat and democratic socialist,WEB,weblink Archived copy, 2016-11-30, yes,weblink" title="">weblink December 17, 2016, mdy-all, WEB,weblink Cornel West, DSA Honorary Chair, November 30, 2016,weblink" title="">weblink April 19, 2018, yes, mdy-all, West draws intellectual contributions from multiple traditions, including Christianity, the black church, Marxism, neopragmatism, and transcendentalism.WEB,weblink Contemporary « Research Pragmatism Cybrary,, 2015-04-23, "Cornel Ronald West". Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 33. Ed. Ashyia Henderson. Gale Group, 2002. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group. 2004."Cornel West y la política de conversión". Thomas Ward. Resistencia cultural: La nación en el ensayo de las Américas. Lima: Universidad Ricardo Palma, 2004, pp. 344–348.Nishikawa, Kinohi. "Cornel West." The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature. Ed. Hans Ostrom and J. David Macey, Jr. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005. 1714–18. Among his most influential books are Race Matters (1994) and Democracy Matters (2004).West is an outspoken voice in left-wing politics in the United States, and as such has been critical of members of the Democratic Party, including former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.WEB,weblink August 24, 2014, Cornel West: "He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency", Thomas, Frank, Salon (website), Salon, WEB,weblink Cornel West: Obama Administration is a 'Drone Presidency', October 2, 2014, May 21, 2017, Time (magazine), Time, WEB,weblink Cornel West channels Martin Luther King Jr. to criticize Obama, Carlos, Lozada, January 19, 2015, May 21, 2017, The Washington Post, He has held professorships at Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, Pepperdine University, Union Theological Seminary, and the University of Paris during his career. He is also a frequent commentator on politics and social issues in many media {{webarchive |url= |date=July 3, 2013 }}From 2010 through 2013, West co-hosted a radio program with Tavis Smiley, called Smiley and West.WEB,weblink Tavis Smiley, Cornell West ending their public radio show in December,, April 26, 2015, WEB,weblink Smiley and West – Noam Chomsky: The Final Smiley and West, Oppression Monitor Daily, April 26, 2015, He has also been featured in several documentaries, and made appearances in Hollywood films such as The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, providing commentary for both films. West has also made several spoken word and hip hop albums, and due to his work, has been named MTV's Artist of the Week.WEB,weblink, Artist Of The Week: Dr. Cornel West by Tamar Anitai, MTV, April 2, 2016, He has also been portrayed on Saturday Night Live by Kenan Thompson.WEB,, Kenan Thompson’s Hilarious Cornel West Spoof On SNL! [VIDEO] – News One, News One, April 26, 2015,

Early life

West was born on June 2, 1953, in Tulsa, Oklahoma,WEB,weblink Prisoner of Hope,weblink" title="">weblink February 9, 2002, November 4, 2015, Elder, Robert, Robert K. Elder, 1998, inFlux, University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, and grew up in Sacramento, California, where he graduated from John F. Kennedy High School. His mother, Irene (Bias), was a teacher and principal, and his father, Clifton Louis West Jr., was a general contractor for the Defense Department.WEB,weblink Cornel West Biography,, 2015-04-23, Irene B. West Elementary School in Elk Grove, California, is named for his mother.JOURNAL, smitty, Fahizah, Opening Doors: Irene West Gave Her All as a Teacher and Principal, Now, a New School Honors Her Name and Hard Work, Sacramento Bee, June 4, 1999, As a young man, West marched in civil rights demonstrations and organized protests demanding black studies courses at his high school, where he was class president. He later wrote that, in his youth, he admired "the sincere black militancy of Malcolm X, the defiant rage of the Black Panther Party, and the livid black theology of James H. Cone."BOOK,weblink The Cornel West Reader, 978-0-465-09110-2, West, Cornel, August 13, 2000, In 1970, after graduating from high school, he enrolled at Harvard College and took classes from the philosophers Robert Nozick and Stanley Cavell. In 1973, West graduated from Harvard magna cum laude in Near Eastern languages and civilization.WEB,weblink Author Cornel West to Speak in Robsham Theater Oct. 30, October 21, 2004, The Boston College Chronicle, January 1, 2013,weblink" title="">weblink June 2, 2010, yes, mdy-all, He credits Harvard with exposing him to a broader range of ideas, influenced by his professors as well as the Black Panther Party. West says his Christianity prevented him from joining the BPP, instead choosing to work in local breakfast, prison, and church programs.WEB,weblink Dr. Cornel West Releases Long-Awaited Memoir, "Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud", Goodman, Amy, September 30, 2009, Democracy Now, April 21, 2012, After completing his undergraduate work at Harvard, West enrolled at Princeton University where he received a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in 1980, becoming the first African American to graduate from Princeton with a PhD degree in philosophy.WEB,weblink Cornel West,, 2010-03-11, 2015-04-23, At Princeton, West was heavily influenced by Richard Rorty's neopragmatism. Rorty remained a close friend and colleague of West's for many years following West's graduation. The title of West's dissertation was Ethics, Historicism and the Marxist Tradition,WEB,weblink Ethics, historicism and the Marxist tradition, October 27, 2009, which was later revised and published under the title The Ethical Dimensions of Marxist Thought.BOOK, Mendieta, Eduardo, Global Fragments: Globalizations, Latinamericanisms, and Critical Theory, 2007, State University of New York Press, Albany, New York, 978-0-7914-7257-6,weblink 173,


Academic appointments

In his late-20s, he returned to Harvard as a W. E. B. Du Bois Fellow before becoming an assistant professor at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. In 1984, he went to Yale Divinity School in what eventually became a joint appointment in American studies. While at Yale, he participated in campus protests for a clerical labor union and divestment from apartheid South Africa. One of the protests resulted in his being arrested and jailed. As punishment, the university administration canceled his leave for the spring term in 1987, leading him to commute from Yale in New Haven, Connecticut, where he was teaching two classes, across the Atlantic Ocean to the University of Paris.He then returned to Union Theological Seminary for one year before going to Princeton to become a professor of religion and director of the Program in African-American Studies from 1988 to 1994. After Princeton, he accepted an appointment as professor of African-American studies at Harvard University, with a joint appointment at the Harvard Divinity School.ENCYCLOPEDIA, Aaseng, Nathan, African-American Religious Leaders, Cornel West, 2003, Facts on File, New York, 0-8160-4878-9, 237, {{Dead link|date=April 2016}} West taught one of the university's most popular courses, an introductory class on African-American studies.NEWS,weblink Cornel West's difficult road to Princeton, Duke, Lynn, August 16, 2002, The Washington Post, October 22, 2011, In 1998, he was appointed the first Alphonse Fletcher University Professor.WEB,weblink Other Key Moments in the Department, Department of African and African American Studies, Harvard University, October 22, 2011, yes,weblink" title="">weblink October 6, 2011, mdy, West utilized this new position to teach in not only African-American studies, but also in divinity, religion, and philosophy. West left Harvard after a widely publicizedWEB,weblink Defector Indignant at President of Harvard, Pam Belluck With Jacques, Steinberg, April 16, 2002,, dispute with then-President Lawrence Summers in 2002.Cornel West. Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. A Memoir. Hay House, Inc. {{ISBN|978-1401921903}}. 1985, pp. 216–230 That year, West returned to Princeton, where he helped create "one of the world’s leading centers for African-American studies" according to Shirley Tilghman, Princeton's president in 2011.NEWS, Goodstein, Laurie, Cornel West to Take a Job in New York,weblink 26 August 2014, New York Times, November 16, 2011, In 2012, West left Princeton and returned to the institution where he began his teaching career, Union Theological Seminary.NEWS,weblink The New York Times, Laurie, Goodstein, Cornel West Returning to Union Theological Seminary, November 16, 2011, His departure from Princeton, unlike his departure from Harvard, was quite amicable. As of 2017, he continues to teach occasional courses at Princeton in an emeritus capacity as the Class of 1943 University Professor in the Center for African American Studies.WEB,weblink Cornel West – Department of Religion, August 25, 2016,, May 8, 2018, The recipient of more than 20 honorary degrees and an American Book Award, he has written or contributed to over twenty published books. West is a long-time member of the Democratic Socialists of America, for which he now serves as an honorary chair. He is also a co-founder of the Network of Spiritual Progressives.WEB,weblink NSP Co-Founders, Network of Spiritual Progressives, October 22, 2011, West is on the advisory board of the International Bridges to Justice.WEB,weblink Board of Directors and Advisors, International Bridges to Justice, October 22, 2011, yes,weblink" title="">weblink November 26, 2011, In 2008, he received a special recognition from the World Cultural Council.WEB, Special Recognitions 2008, World Cultural Council,weblink August 19, 2013, yes,weblink" title="">weblink November 5, 2013, mdy, West is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and its World Policy Council, a think tank whose purpose is to expand Alpha Phi Alpha's involvement in politics and social and current policy to encompass international concerns.JOURNAL, Horace, Dawson, Horace Dawson, Edward Brooke, Henry Ponder, Vinton R. Anderson, Bobby William Austin, Ron Dellums, Kenton Keith (diplomat), Kenton Keith, Huel D. Perkins, Charles B. Rangel, Charles Rangel, Clathan McClain Ross, and Cornel West, The Centenary Report of the Alpha Phi Alpha World Policy Council, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, July 2006,weblink PDF, May 23, 2011, yes,weblink" title="">weblink February 25, 2009, mdy, West has been widely cited in the popular press.WEB,weblink Cornel West Quitting Harvard, Fletcher, Michael A., Ferdinand, Pamela, April 13, 2002, The Washington Post, October 22, 2011, His scholarship has been criticized as well as praised; The New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier called West's writing "sectarian, humorless, pedantic and self-endeared".Wieseltier, quoted in BOOK, harv, Wood, Mark David, Cornel West and the Politics of Prophetic Pragmatism, 2000, University of Illinois Press, 0-25-202578-4, 4,weblink In November 2016, Harvard announced that West would be leaving Union Theological Seminary to hold a joint nontenured appointment at the Harvard Divinity School and the Harvard Department of African and African-American Studies as Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy.WEB,weblink Cornel R. West,, May 8, 2018, WEB,weblink Cornel R. West,, May 8, 2018, NEWS,weblink Cornel West Will Return to Teach at Harvard, Seelye, Katharine Q., 2016-11-18, The New York Times, 2017-03-25, 0362-4331,

Entertainment career

West appears as Councillor West in both The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions and also provides the voice for this character in the video game Enter the Matrix.Agger, Michael. FILM; And the Oscar for Best Scholar . . .. The New York Times. May 18, 2003. Retrieved March 7, 2011. In addition, West provides philosophical commentary on all three Matrix films in The Ultimate Matrix Collection, along with the integral theorist Ken Wilber.Pratt, Doug. The Ultimate Matrix Collection. The Hollywood Reporter via AllBusiness. December 6, 2004. Retrieved March 7, 2011. {{Dead link|date=April 2016}}He has made several appearances in documentary films also, such as the 2008 film Examined Life, a documentary featuring several academics discussing philosophy in real-world contexts. West, "driving through Manhattan, ... compares philosophy to jazz and blues, reminding us how intense and invigorating a life of the mind can be."WEB, Examined Life (2008) – Plot Summary,weblink He also appears in conversation with Bill Withers in the Bill Withers documentary, Still Bill.West has made frequent appearances on the political talk show Real Time with Bill Maher.WEB, Real Time with Bill Maher: Full Cast and Crew,weblink April 21, 2012, A character based on West and events in his career appeared in the (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) episode "Anti-Thesis", significant for introducing the recurring villain character Nicole Wallace.WEB
, Academic Scandals and the Broadcast Media
, Rhonda Hammer
, Douglas Kellner
, 2015-04-23
, yes
,weblink" title="">weblink
, June 26, 2010
, mdy
, In May 2012, West guest-starred in the sixth season of the American television comedy series 30 Rock, "What Will Happen to the Gang Next Year?".WEB,weblink 30 Rock: "What Will Happen To The Gang Next Year?", The A.V. Club, Meredith, Blake, May 17, 2012, On the musical front, West recorded a recitation of John Mellencamp's song "Jim Crow" for inclusion on the singer's box set On the Rural Route 7609 in 2009.In 2010, he completed recording with the Cornel West Theory, a hip hop band endorsed by West.Han, Lisa. Cornel West Theory. Daily Princetonian. February 4, 2010. Retrieved March 7, 2011. He has also released several hip-hop/soul/spoken word albums. In 2001, West released his first album, Sketches of My Culture.WEB,weblink Harvard Professor Makes Hip-Hop CD, Washington Post, Audie N., Cornish, November 6, 2001, October 21, 2014, Street Knowledge followed in 2004.WEB,weblink Cornel West – Street Knowledge, East Bay Express, Rachel, Swan, April 21, 2004, October 21, 2014, In 2007, West released Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations, his third album which included collaborations with the likes of Prince, Talib Kweli, Jill Scott, Andre 3000, KRS-One, and the late Gerald Levert.WEB,weblink CD Review: Cornel West, Tucson Citizen, Brett, Johnson, September 6, 2007, October 21, 2014, West appeared on Immortal Technique's song "Sign of the Times", which appeared on the 2011 album The Martyr.WEB,weblink Immortal Technique talks about his new free album The Martyr and Occupy MN, City Pages, Rebecca, McDonald, October 27, 2011, October 21, 2014, yes,weblink" title="">weblink May 29, 2013, mdy, In 2012, he was featured on Brother Ali's song "Letter to My Countrymen", which appeared on the album Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color.WEB,weblink Brother Ali: Mourning In America and Dreaming In Color, Pitchfork Media, Nate, Patrin, September 19, 2012, October 21, 2014,

Dispute with Lawrence Summers

In 2000, the economist and former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers became president of Harvard. Soon after, Summers held a private meeting with West, where he reportedly rebuked West for missing too many classes, contributing to grade inflation, neglecting serious scholarship, and spending too much time on his economically profitable projects.NEWS, Associated Press, Who is Cornel West?,weblink CNN, Cable News Network, January 10, 2002, January 21, 2008,weblink" title="">weblink December 26, 2007, Summers reportedly suggested that West produce an academic book befitting his professorial position, as his recent output had consisted primarily of co-written and edited volumes. According to some reports, Summers also objected to West's production of a CD, the critically panned Sketches of My Culture, and to his political campaigning, including an alleged three weeks to promote Bill Bradley's presidential campaign.NEWS, Jacques, Steinberg, Jacques Steinberg, At Odds With Harvard President, Black-Studies Stars Eye Princeton,weblink The New York Times, The New York Times Company, New York City, November 29, 2001, January 21, 2008, West contended he had missed only one class during his tenure at Harvard "in order to give a keynote address at a Harvard-sponsored conference on AIDS." Summers also allegedly suggested that since West held the rank of Harvard University Professor and thus reported directly to the President, he should meet with Summers regularly to discuss the progress of his academic production.NEWS, Pam, Belluck, Jacques Steinberg, Defector Indignant at President of Harvard,weblink The New York Times, The New York Times Company, New York City, April 16, 2002, January 21, 2008, Summers refused to comment on the details of his conversation with West, except to express hope that West would remain at Harvard. Soon after, West was hospitalized for prostate cancer. West complained that Summers failed to send him get-well wishes until weeks after his surgery, whereas newly installed Princeton president Shirley Tilghman had contacted him frequently before and after his treatment.In 2002 West left Harvard University to return to Princeton. West lashed out at Summers in public interviews, calling him "the Ariel Sharon of higher education" on NPR's Tavis Smiley Show.WEB,weblink Cornel West Outlines "Pull toward Princeton" and "Push from Harvard" in Exclusive Interview with NPR's Tavis Smiley,, January 7, 2002, March 7, 2011, In response to these remarks, five Princeton faculty members, led by professor of molecular biology Jacques Robert Fresco, said they looked with "strong disfavor upon his characterization" of Summers and that "such an analogy carries innuendoes and implications ... that many on the Princeton faculty find highly inappropriate, indeed repugnant and intolerable."NEWS, Cornel West's Analogy, Jacques R. Fresco, The New York Times, April 24, 2002,weblink limited, Harvard University's undergraduate student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, suggested in October 2002 that the premise of the (Law and Order: Criminal Intent) episode "Anti-Thesis" was based on West's conflicts with Summers.WEB, Campbell, Andrew C.,weblink Ripped from Harvard Headlines | News | The Harvard Crimson,, October 16, 2002, March 7, 2011, yes,weblink" title="">weblink October 13, 2007,


Views on race in the United States

West has called the US a "racist patriarchal" nation where white supremacy continues to define everyday life. "White America", he writes, "has been historically weak-willed in ensuring racial justice and has continued to resist fully accepting the humanity of blacks." This has resulted, he says, in the creation of many "degraded and oppressed people hungry for identity, meaning, and self-worth." West attributes most of the black community's problems to "existential angst derive[d] from the lived experience of ontological wounds and emotional scars inflicted by white supremacist beliefs and images permeating U.S. society and culture."Cornel West, Race Matters, p. 27, 2001 edition, {{ISBN|978-0-8070-0972-7}}In West's view, the September 11 attacks gave white Americans a glimpse of what it means to be a black person in the United States—feeling "unsafe, unprotected, subject to random violence, and hatred" for who they are.Cornel West, Democracy Matters, p. 20, 2004, {{ISBN|0-14-303583-5}} "The ugly terrorist attacks on innocent civilians on 9/11", he said, "plunged the whole country into the blues."West was arrested on October 13, 2014, while protesting against the shooting of Michael Brown and participating in Ferguson October,WEB, Cornel West arrested; video of #FergusonOctober from Fusion's Tim Pool,weblink, 13 October 2014, WEB, Cornel West in Ferguson: ‘I Came Here to Go to Jail’,weblink Truth Dig, Truth Dig, 13 October 2014, and again on August 10, 2015, while demonstrating outside a courthouse in St. Louis on the one-year anniversary of Brown's death.WEB,weblink Cornel West among dozens of protesters arrested at St. Louis courthouse as state of emergency declared in Missouri, Cameron, Joseph, Corky, Siemaszko, August 10, 2015, Daily News (New York), New York Daily News, August 11, 2015, The 2015 documentary film #Bars4Justice includes footage of West demonstrating and being arrested in Ferguson.WEB,weblink Filmmakers bring Ferguson to Phoenix's Hip Hop community… Sheriff Arpaio not invited, September 30, 2015, Nation19, April 23, 2016,


File:Cornel West & Robert P. George (28154741749).jpg|right|thumb|West (left) with Robert P. GeorgeRobert P. GeorgeWest has described himself as a "non-Marxist socialist" (partly because he does not view Marxism and Christianity as reconcilable)BOOK, West, Cornel, The Cornel West Reader, 1999, Basic Civitas Books, New York, 0-465-09109-1,weblink 13, and serves as honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America, which he has described as "the first multiracial, socialist organization close enough to my politics that I could join". He also described himself as a "radical democrat, suspicious of all forms of authority" on the Matrix-themed documentary The Burly Man Chronicles.VIDEO, Cornel West, The Ultimate Matrix Collection, West believes that "the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's ugly totalitarian regime was desirable,"Cornel West, Democracy Matters, p. 58, 2004, {{ISBN|0-14-303583-5}} but that the war in Iraq was the result of "dishonest manipulation" on the part of the Bush administration.Cornel West, Democracy Matters, p. 101, 2004, {{ISBN|0-14-303583-5}} He asserts that Bush administration hawks "are not simply conservative elites and right-wing ideologues", but rather are "evangelical nihilists â€“ drunk with power and driven by grand delusions of American domination of the world". He adds, "We are [now] experiencing the sad gangsterization of America, an unbridled grasp at power, wealth, and status." Viewing capitalism as the root cause of these alleged American lusts, West warns, "Free-market fundamentalism trivializes the concern for public interest. It puts fear and insecurity in the hearts of anxiety-ridden workers. It also makes money-driven, poll-obsessed elected officials deferential to corporate goals of profit – often at the cost of the common good." {{webarchive |url= |date=December 3, 2010 }}West has been involved with such projects as the Million Man March and Russell Simmons's Hip-Hop Summit, and worked with such public figures as Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton, whose 2004 presidential campaign West advised.WEB,weblink Cornel West, Cloaked in Street Smarts, Givhan, Robin, Robin Givhan, January 25, 2002, The Washington Post, October 22, 2011, In 2000, West worked as a senior advisor to Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley. When Bradley lost in the primaries, West became a prominent endorser of Ralph Nader, even speaking at some Nader rallies. Some Greens sought to draft West to run as a presidential candidate in 2004. West declined, citing his active participation in the Al Sharpton campaign. West, along with other prominent Nader 2000 supporters, signed the "Vote to Stop Bush" statement urging progressive voters in swing states to vote for John Kerry, despite strong disagreements with many of Kerry's policies."Senators Hillary Clinton and John Kerry are exemplary paternalistic nihilists... Their centrist or conservative policies... are opportunistic efforts to satisfy centrist or conservative constituencies." Cornel West, Democracy Matters, p. 35-36, 2004, {{ISBN|0-14-303583-5}}In April 2002 West and Rabbi Michael Lerner performed civil disobedience by sitting in the street in front of the US State Department "in solidarity with suffering Palestinian and Israeli brothers and sisters." West said, "We must keep in touch with the humanity of both sides."WEB,weblink Peace Demonstrators Arrested, Without Much Conviction, Montgomery, David, April 12, 2002, The Washington Post, October 22, 2011, WEB,weblink Thoughts on Anti-Semitism,, December 6, 2005, March 7, 2011, In May 2007 West joined a demonstration against "injustices faced by the Palestinian people resulting from the Israeli occupation" and "to bring attention to this 40-year travesty of justice". In 2011, West called on the University of Arizona to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian {{webarchive |url= |date=July 19, 2011 }}West also serves as co-chair of the Tikkun Community. He co-chaired the National Parenting Organization's Task Force on Parent Empowerment and participated in President Bill Clinton's National Conversation on Race. He has publicly endorsed In These Times magazine by calling it: "The most creative and challenging news magazine of the American left". He is also a contributing editor for Sojourners magazine.West supports People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in its Kentucky Fried Cruelty campaign, aimed at eliminating what PETA describes as KFC's inhumane treatment of chickens. West is quoted on PETA flyers: "Although most people don't know chickens as well as they know cats and dogs, chickens are interesting individuals with personalities and interests every bit as developed as the dogs and cats with whom many of us share our lives."In 2008, West contributed his insights on the current global issue of modernized slavery and human trafficking in the documentary Call+Response.WEB,weblink Call + Response,, March 7, 2011, West is a member of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy.In 2011, West addressed his frustration about some critics of the Occupy Wall Street, who remark about the movement's lack of a clear and unified message. West replied by saying:It's impossible to translate the issue of the greed of Wall Street into one demand, or two demands. We're talking about a democratic're talking about raising political consciousness so it spills over all parts of the country, so people can begin to see what's going on through a set of different lens, and then you begin to highlight what the more detailed demands would be. Because in the end we're really talking about what Martin King would call a revolution: A transfer of power from oligarchs to everyday people of all colors. And that is a step by step process.WEB, Cornel West on Occupy Wall Street: It's the Makings of a U.S. Autumn Responding to the Arab Spring,weblink Democracy Now, September 29, 2011, September 30, 2011, On October 16, 2011, West was in Washington, DC, participating in the Occupy D.C. protests on the steps of the Supreme Court over the court's decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case the previous year.WEB,weblink Dr. Cornel West honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by going to jail, Thisltethwaite, Susan Brooks, October 17, 2011, The Washington Post, April 21, 2012, Five days later, he was arrested during an Occupy Wall Street protest in Harlem against the New York Police Department's stop and frisk policy.WEB,weblink Cornel West Arrested Again at Occupy Protest, Carbone, Nick, October 22, 2011, Time, April 21, 2012, In 2014, West co-initiated the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, a project of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA. Later that year, he and RCP chairman Bob Avakian took part in a filmed discussion on "Religion and Revolution".WEB,weblink Revolution and Religion: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion,, December 29, 2017, In August 2017, West was one of a group of interfaith, multiracial clergy who took part in a counter-protest at the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia; West averred that Antifa had saved their lives.WEB,weblink Cornel West & Rev. Traci Blackmon: Clergy in Charlottesville Were Trapped by Torch-Wielding Nazis, August 14, 2017, Democracy Now!, August 19, 2017,

Views on Barack Obama

West has often spoken about the lack of adequate black leadership and how it leads to doubt within black communities as to their political potential to ensure change.BOOK, Black Popular Culture, Wallace, Michele, Bay Press, 1992, 978-1-56584-459-9, Seattle, 45, Cornel West publicly supported 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama. He spoke to over 1,000 of his supporters at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, on November 29, 2007.NEWS, Stacy, Parker Aab, Obama, Race, and the Right Side of History,weblink The Huffington News,, Inc., October 30, 2007, January 21, 2008, West, however, criticized President Barack Obama when Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, saying that it would be difficult for Obama to be "a war president with a peace prize". West further retracted his support for Obama in an April 2011 interview, stating that Obama is "a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black muppet of corporate plutocrats. And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it."WEB,weblink Cornel West Comments on Obama's Nobel Peace Prize: Hard to Be War President with Peace Prize, The Huffington Post, October 10, 2009, October 28, 2009, Schneider, Matt. "Wild Shoutfest Between Al Sharpton And Cornel West On Obama And Race". April 11, 2011. Retrieved 2011-4-11.WEB,weblink Chris Hedges: The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic – Chris Hedges,, 2015-04-23, In November 2012, West said in an interview that he considered Obama a "Rockefeller Republican in blackface."WEB,weblink Cornel West: Obama A 'Republican In Blackface,' Black MSNBC Hosts Are ‘Selling Their Souls’, Kirell, Andrew, November 12, 2012, Mediaite, November 28, 2012, WEB,weblink An Interview with Cornel West on Occupy, Obama and Marx, CounterPunch, November 30, 2012, In 2011, West participated in a "Poverty Tour" with Tavis Smiley, his co-host on the Public Radio International program Smiley & West. The tour became a two-part special on their radio program as well as a five-night special on the PBS television program Tavis Smiley. They recounted their experience on the tour in their 2012 bestselling book The Rich and the Rest of Us. The stated aim of the tour was to highlight the plight of the impoverished population of the United States prior to the 2012 presidential election, whose candidates West and Smiley stated had ignored the plight of the poor.WEB,weblink Cornel West & Tavis Smiley on Obama: 'Many of Us Are Exploring Other Possibilities in Coming Election', Democracy Now!, August 9, 2011, April 21, 2012, File:Cornel West Introduces Bernie Sanders in South Carolina.webm|thumb|West introduces Bernie Sanders at a September 2015 campaign rally in South Carolina]]In 2013, West referred to Obama's speech at the 50th anniversary celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech as contradictory and as "pretty words that hide ugly deeds." West then goes on to state, "Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. Barack Obama's got drones. Martin Luther King Jr. had prophetic missions. Barack Obama's got deadly missiles that he’s ready to use."WEB,weblink Cornel West: MLK Had a Dream; 'Barack Obama's Got Drones', CNS News, May 8, 2018, In 2014, West gave an interview slamming Obama, calling him a "counterfeit" who posed as a progressive. West defined Obama's presidency as "a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency."NEWS, Salon (website), Salon, Cornel West: "He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency", August 24, 2014, Thomas Frank,weblink 2014-08-31,

2016 presidential election

In 2015, West expressed his support for Democratic contender Bernie Sanders during an interview on CNN Tonight. West argued that Sanders' plans to divert wealth from Wall Street elites to the poorest members of society would be beneficial for the African-American community.WEB,weblink Civil Rights Activist Cornel West Throws Support Behind Bernie Sanders, Ring of Fire, August 19, 2015, August 19, 2015, On August 24, 2015, West tweeted, "I endorse Brother @BernieSanders because he is a long-distance runner with integrity in the struggle for justice for over 50 years."Bernie Sanders Gets Stamp of Approval From Cornel West. The New York Times. August 25, 2015.In July 2016, after Sanders exited the presidential race, West endorsed Green Party nominee Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka.WEB,weblink Sanders ally Cornel West backs Green candidate, Mark, Hensch, July 14, 2016, The Hill (newspaper), The Hill, July 15, 2016, West, who is critical of the current US interventionist foreign policy, referred to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as a "neoliberal disaster",WEB,weblink Cornel West: Why I Endorse Green Party’s Jill Stein Over "Neoliberal Disaster" Hillary Clinton,, May 8, 2018, and accused Clinton of merely posing as a progressive.WEB,weblink Bernie or Hillary? Cornel West & Dolores Huerta Debate After Sanders' Upset Win in Michigan,, May 8, 2018, Following the victory of Donald Trump, West contended in an op-ed for The Guardian that white working- and middle-class voters "rejected the economic neglect of neoliberal policies and the self-righteous arrogance of elites", yet "supported a candidate who appeared to blame their social misery on minorities, and who alienated Mexican immigrants, Muslims, black people, Jews, gay people, women and China in the process."Goodbye, American neoliberalism. A new era is here. The Guardian. 17 November 2016.

Published works

  • "Black Theology and Marxist Thought" (1979) – essay
  • Prophesy Deliverance! An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity (1982)
  • Post-Analytic Philosophy, edited with John Rajchman (1985)
  • Prophetic Fragments (1988)
  • The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Genealogy of Pragmatism (1989)
  • Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life (with bell hooks, 1991)
  • The Ethical Dimensions of Marxist Thought (1991)
  • Prophetic Thought in Postmodern Times: Beyond Eurocentrism and Multiculturalism (1993)
  • Race Matters (1993)
  • Keeping Faith: Philosophy and Race in America (1994)
  • Jews and Blacks: A Dialogue on Race, Religion, and Culture in America (with rabbi Michael Lerner, 1995)
  • The Future of the Race (with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 1996)
  • Restoring Hope: Conversations on the Future of Black America (1997)
  • The War Against Parents: What We Can Do for America's Beleaguered Moms and Dads (with Sylvia Ann Hewlett, 1998)
  • The Future of American Progressivism (with Roberto Unger, 1998)
  • The African-American Century: How Black Americans Have Shaped Our Century (with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2000)
  • Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism (2004)
  • Commentary on The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions; see The Ultimate Matrix Collection (with Ken Wilber, 2004)
  • Hope on a Tightrope: Words & Wisdom (2008)
  • Brother West: Living & Loving Out Loud (2009)
  • (The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto) (with Tavis Smiley, 2012)
  • Pro+Agonist: The Art of Opposition (2012)
  • Black Prophetic Fire (2014)





  • Sketches of My Culture (2001)
  • Street Knowledge (2004)
  • Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations (2007) (with BMWMB)

Guest appearances

See also



Further reading

External links

{{commons}} {{Union Theological Seminary (New York City)}}{{Socialism}}{{Authority control}}

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