Cornel West is a Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University…. He is a longtime member of the Democratic Socialists of America, for which he currently serves as Honorary Chair. He is also a co-chair of Michael Lerner’s Tikkun Community.
West was born in 1953 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. From a young age, he proclaimed that he admired “the sincere black militancy of Malcolm X, the defiant rage of the Black Panther Party … and the livid black [liberation] theology of James Cone.”
Growing up in the radical 1960s, West became a black militant activist and president of his senior class in high school. At seventeen he was recruited to Harvard, where, as he describes it, he was determined to press the university and its intellectual traditions into the service of his political agendas….
West is a friend to Louis Farrakhan, among the most influential anti-Semites in America. And in 1999, in his role as then-presidential candidate Bill Bradley’s advisor on blacks, West encouraged Bradley to meet with Al Sharpton (whose own campaign for a U.S. Senate seat West had supported in 1994)….
West deems the United States a nation rife with bigotry that finds its expression in an endless flow of affronts and assaults aimed against the black community. He has branded the U.S. 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 claims, in the creation of many “degraded and oppressed people [who are] hungry for identity, meaning, and self-worth.” …
West is a proponent of black liberation theology — a variation of liberation theology, which teaches that the New Testament gospels can be understood only as calls for social activism, class struggle, and revolution aimed at overturning the existing capitalist order and installing, in its stead, a socialist utopia where today’s poor will unseat their “oppressors” and become liberated from their material (and, consequently, their spiritual) deprivations. Black liberation theology seeks to foment a similar Marxist revolutionary fervor founded on racial rather than class solidarity. The Christian notion of “salvation” in the afterlife is superseded by “liberation” on earth, courtesy of the aforementioned socialist utopia….
For the entire Cornel West profile, click here.November 29th, 2009
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