Cornel West

Activist / Educator
Date Of Birth:
2 July 1953
Place Of Birth:
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Best Known As:
The African American Studies professor who wrote Race Matters

Media personality Cornel West is an African American Studies scholar and socialist critic of the "white patriarchy" that is the United States of America. West grew up in Sacramento and graduated from Harvard in 1973. He then embarked on an academic career in the humanities, teaching ethics, religion and African American studies during the 1980s at the Union Theological Seminary, Yale and the University of Paris. During the 1990s he was a professor at Harvard University, but left in 2002 after a highly-publicized dispute with the university's president, Lawrence Summers (Summers didn't think West worked hard enough for the school). West then joined the faculty of Princeton, where he'd earned his PhD. in 1980. During his career, West has straddled the fence between upper class scholars, his professional peer group, and the average joes in the street, the group whose cause he champions. A celebrity scholar and popular professor, West is also a burr under the saddle for administrators because of his outspoken defense of leftist causes and political candidates. A frequent guest on TV talk shows, West is often called on to attack the left as well as the right; he made headlines for calling President Barack Obama a "Republican in blackface" in 2012. He's also the author of nearly 20 books, including Race Matters (1994), Democracy Matters (2005) and the memoir Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud (2010).

Extra Credit

Cornel West appears in the films The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003) as “Councillor West.”

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