CORNEL WEST Essay, Research Paper
?The fundamental crisis in black America is twofold: too much poverty and too little self-love.? Cornel West is the African American philosopher who made that statement in his book titled, Race Matters. The Tulsa, Oklahoma native who is both liked and disliked by his peers and the public was born on, June 2, 1953 to Clifton and Irene West. Clifton L. West was a civilian air force administrator. On account of his fathers? position, the family was relocated to Sacramento, California. The unchanging high standards of Cornel West were recognized at the tender age of eleven by his football coach at Will C. Wood Jr. High School. By the age of 13 or 14, Cornel West was interested in the work of Soren Kierkegaard. Mr. Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher who wrote philosophical & literary essays. Numerous influences brought Cornel West to this passionate interest in philosophy. ?I was and is motivated by the historical condition of human existence and the way possibilities and potentialities are created, seized and missed by individuals and communities? (The Cornel West Reader, pg. 20-21). Cornel was resonated with the sincere black militancy of Malcolm X, defiant rage of the Black Panther Party and the livid black theology of James Core. Being the grandson of a Baptist Minister also helped to influence his decision because his Christian outlook served as the basis for his life vocation. Harvard University, his preferred university had accepted him into the school at 16 years old. In June 1970, Cornel West graduated from John F Kennedy High School at 17 years old. He attended Harvard University for three years, changing his major from philosophy to Near Eastern languages and literature to graduate a year earlier. Cornel?s major focus was on history and social thought.
In 1977, Cornel West accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Mr. West elected to teach at Union Theological Seminary (UTC) for three reasons: the school was and is the center of the liberation theology in the country. It is one of the best places for black theological education in the country. Last but not least, it allowed him to teach and read widely in philosophy, social theory, history, literacy criticism and cultural thought. Unexpected education was received at UTC from his supportive colleagues. Trips were taken to Brazil, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Mexico, Europe and South Africa. Two encounters shaped the kind of democratic socialism West would promote: intellectual exchanges with Stanley Aronowitz and membership in Michael Harrington?s new organization, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). West and Michael Harrington share three fundamental points. The first point is the necessity of rethinking and reinterpreting the insights of the Marxist tradition in light on new circumstances. Secondly, the need for a national multiracial democratic socialist organization that puts a premium on intellectual exchange and political relevance. Thirdly, the need for articulating a distinctive U.S. road to greater freedom, justice and equality? (Cornel West Reader). Cornel West moved on from UTC to Yale Divinity School in 1984. At Yale Divinity School, West reflected on the crisis in American Philosophy. During his employment with this school he commuted five to seven days from New Haven to Paris from February to April 1987. Cornel West decided to leave Yale for personal reasons and went back to teach at UTC for one year.
In 1988, West taught in the religion department and directed the Afro-American studies program at the best philosophy department in the country at the time, Princeton University. West became a student while teaching at Princeton University, earning his M.A. and Ph.D. Cornel West is currently employed by Harvard University. Throughout his career West has been the author of over 17 books, has spoken to hundreds of Universities and Colleges for different forums. The 48-year-old philosopher earned his B.A. magna cum laude while being employed with Harvard University since 1994. On January 10, 2002, Cornel West told the public he is leaning towards changing his focus to concentrate on his personal health; he has been diagnosed with cancer.