Antonio D. Wells
Spirituality in the Black Tradition BC SF601
March 1, 2012
Cornel West is considered to be our modern day W.E.B. Du Bois. He is a brilliant and provocative democratic intellectual. Cornel West is a passionate, loving, and inspiring scholarly individual, that I feel as a black seminary student we can gleam from him his thoughts on social economic injustices, racism, nihilism in America, and urban youth culture. Even though I do not agree with all of his philosophical ideals, I feel Cornel West is a great contributor to the African American culture. Cornel West is the Class of 1943 University Professor at Princeton University. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton. He has taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard and the University of Paris. He has written 19 books and edited 13 books. He is best known for his classic Race Matters, Democracy Matters, and his new memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. He appears frequently on the Bill Maher Show, Colbert Report, CNN and C-Span as well as on his friend, Tavis Smiley’s PBS TV Show. Cornel West can be heard weekly on the Tavis Smiley’s NPI radio program. The Tavis Smiley and Cornel West radio show is a highly acclaimed progressive program. He made his film debut in the Matrix and was the commentator with Ken Wilbur on the official trilogy released in 2004. He also has appeared in over 25 documentaries and films including Examined Life, Call and Response, Sidewalk and Stand. Last, he has made three spoken word albums including Never Forget, collaborating with Prince, Jill Scott, Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, KRS-One and the late Gerald Levert. His recent spoken word interludes were featured on Terence Blanchard’s Choices which won the Grand Prix in France for the best Jazz Album of the year of 2009, The Cornel West Theory’s Second Rome and the Raheem DeVaughn’s Love and War: Masterpeace. In short, Cornel West has a passion to communicate to a vast variety of publics in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice. Cornel West in his own words said he is, “a bluesman in the life of the mind, a jazzman in the world of ideas, forever on the move.” Formative Years
Cornel West was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1953, and lived most of his childhood and youth in segregated working class neighborhoods in Oklahoma, and Kansas. The West family moved a great deal and finally settled in a middle-class neighborhood in Sacramento, California. Both of his parents attended Fisk University. His father was a civilian Air Force Administrator for the Defense Department and his mother was a teacher and a principal. Irene B. West Elementary School in Elk Grove, California, is named after his mother. In high school he excelled in scholarship and athletics. It was there that the young Cornel West began what would become a lifelong habit of protest by refusing to salute the flag because of the second-class status of African Americans in the country. From his parents, siblings, and community, young Cornel West derived “ideals and images of dignity, integrity, majesty, and humility.” These values, presented in Christian narratives, symbols, rituals, and moral examples, provided him “existential and ethical equipment to confront the crises, terrors, and horrors of life.” As a young man, Cornel West was greatly impressed by the Baptist church. His grandfather, the Reverend Clifton L.West, Sr., was pastor of the Tulsa Metropolitan Baptist Church in Tulsa Oklahoma. Cornel West had been deeply touched by the stories of parishioners who, only two generations from slavery, told stories of Blacks maintaining their religious faith during the most trying of times. In W.E.B. Du Bois 1903 treatise “The Souls of Black Folk, he said “for the problem of the Twentieth...