Famous Black studies academic Cornel West declared his candidacy for president on the People’s Party platform on Monday (12 June). A vocal radical, West announced his candidacy as “for truth and justice.” His recommendations include cutting off all aid to Ukraine, wiping down student loan debt, and offering free housing and a modest income.
West’s campaign is a significant cultural marker and the most recent chapter in a career marked by popularity and scandal, even a thistle chance of winning the presidency. West, a professor at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, received his education at Harvard and Princeton.
He is seated in a chair given that name in honor of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German clergyman the Nazis kἰlled for opposing their evil dictatorship. West thinks that it is his responsibility to challenge authorities. He said on Monday:
“Neither political party wants to tell the truth about Wall Street, about Ukraine, about the Pentagon and Big Tech.”
Here is a summary of Cornel West’s notorious paternal history.
Who is Cornel West?
West’s book “Race Matters” is what initially made him famous. The compact, impactful book came out in 1993, one year after social upheaval erupted in Los Angeles due to a jury’s decision not to prosecute the four police officers who beat Rodney King during a traffic stop.
West was a Princeton professor then and was not well-known to the general public. That would soon alter. West argued persuasively with both conservatives and liberals, urging Americans to get over the poisonous racial divisions that Los Angeles had shown the year before.
West wrote in his typical style, which could be provocative and prophetic sometimes in the same paragraph:
“We simply cannot enter the twenty-first century at each other’s throats, even as we acknowledge the weighty forces of racism, patriarchy, economic inequality, homophobia, and ecological abuse on our necks,”
The New York Times praised West’s work and compared him to James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison, two of the most significant Black authors of the 20th century.
Controversy at Harvard
Harvard, whose dean at the time, Neil Rudenstine, was creating an elite department of African American studies, enticed West away from Princeton in 1994. Rudenstine retired in 2001 due to work exhaustion. The 46-year-old economist Larry Summers took his post.
Sommers, like West, was intelligent, confident, and not hesitant to express his opinions. So there was going to be a conflict between the two. They did this in a meeting in 2001, where Summers charged West of spending excessive time on pursuits unrelated to instructing Harvard students.
Since the release of “Race Matters,” West had established himself as one of the few public intellectuals recognized outside the academy. He avidly campaigned for Bill Bradley, a former NBA player and U.S. senator from New Jersey, who was running for president.
He later joined the Rev. Al Sharpton’s presidential exploratory group. Introduction to African American Studies, one of West’s most well-liked courses at Harvard, was one of her subjects. He held a prestigious appointment at Harvard, but tenure would have provided him security and recognition.
No Friend of the Obama Administration
West, a lifelong opponent of American imperialism, disagreed with the Bush administration’s War on Terror policy. But the first Black president’s election did not appease him. Instead, West contended that Obama was not the revolutionary leader he had represented during his 2008 presidential campaign.
West said in a 2010 interview:
“Black folk can’t be blindsided by Obama’s pigmentation and historical symbolism. What I’m saying is, I wish he could be more Martin Luther King-like. Has had to downplay his blackness to appease the white moderates and independents and speak to their anxieties.”
By the end of Obama’s second term, even some of West’s former allies had grown tired of his harsh attἀcks from the left. In a scathing 2015 article for The New Republic, Black studies professor Michael Eric Dyson, a onetime friend of West’s, worried that the Princeton professor had taken a “dramatic plummet from his perch as a world-class intellectual.”
Check out the following posts if you want to learn more about the lives of other well-known people:
- Who is Karyn Parsons? Explore the Journey of Her Life and Work
- Who is Willi Ninja, and In How Many Movies Does He Work?
A Progressive Without Compromises
West’s uncompromising approach is more in line with the current generation of young progressives than with the more moderate liberals who came of age during the Clinton administration. Donald Trump’s election in 2016 only intensified his conviction that severe problems in American society remained unaddressed.
West wrote in a 2017 social media post:
“Trump is as American as apple pie. He’s an expression, an articulation, an extension of so much of the worst of America’s past and present.”
Trump is as American as apple pie. He’s an expression, an articulation, an extension of so much of the worst of American’s past and present.
— Cornel West (@CornelWest) April 27, 2017
West has frequently appeared on the left-leaning news network Democracy Now! in recent years. Additionally, he has kept on speaking at universities. Shortly after the 2020 presidential election, West told a University of Pennsylvania audience that he had voted for Biden over Trump because “A fascist catastrophe is worse than a neoliberal disaster.”
If you want to read the biographies of other stars, including their careers and early lives, you may follow our Twitter account. We always cover the most recent news in this area.