Democracy Matters:
An Evening with Cornel West

Cornel West

Thursday, September 30, 2004 | 7:30 -9:30pm | Kresge Auditorium | Free and Open to All

Cornel West, the Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion at Princeton University, discuss themes and ideas from his latest book, Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism. The usual format for the Aurora Forum is on-stage conversation that opens to audience participation. Tonight we break precedent by inviting Dr. West to present a lecture followed by a question-and-answer period. As always, our intention is to inspire conversation, and we hope you will share insights generated by this discussion with members of your family, neighbors, and colleagues.

Cornel West was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in1953, grew up in Sacramento, California and was educated at Harvard. In just three years he earned his bachelor’s degree in the Near Eastern Languages and Literature program with a concentration in Hebrew and Aramaic. During these same years he made weekly trips to teach in Norfolk State Prison, was active in the Black Student Organization, and learned to strike the balance between serious intellectual work and frontline political action that remains a pronounced feature of his extraordinary life.

From Harvard he went to Princeton where he earned a doctorate in philosophy under the guidance of political philosopher Sheldon Wolin. At Princeton he met Richard Rorty, the philosopher whose deep interest in American pragmatism moved West to develop the “prophetic pragmatist” position that serves as the foundation for his highly original contributions to American thought.

Professor West served on the faculty of Union Theological Seminary in New York from 1977-83. He then moved to Yale Divinity School where he taught from 1984-87. He returned to Union Seminary in 1988, and then took up the directorship of the Afro-American Studies Program at Princeton from 1989-94. Then, in 1994, he became Professor of Religion and African-American Studies at Harvard. In 1999 he was appointed the first Alphonse Fletcher, Jr., University Professor at Harvard, a position he held until his return to Princeton in 2002. His current research focuses on interconnections between the tragic, the comic, and the political.

Professor West has authored numerous books, including the American Book Award-winning Beyond Eurocentrism and Multiculturalism, The American Evasion of Philosophy, Race Matters, Keeping Faith, The Cornel West Reader, and, as co-editor, African American Religious Thought: An Anthology. He has also produced two spoken word CDs, Sketches of My Culture and the just-released Street Knowledge.

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