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Black Prophetic Fire - Intersections of Leadership, Faith, and Social Justice

Cornel West

Cornel West

In this opening Bannan Institute lecture, Cornel West offers a fresh perspective on the work of several revolutionary African American leaders of the 19th and 20th centuries: Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett.  Bemoaning the “deodoriz[ing]” of these radical figures,” West considers anew the impact of these men and women in their own eras and across the decades, reflecting on the intersections of faith and social justice within prophetic leadership.

“Are we experiencing the demise of the Black prophetic tradition in present-day America? Do the great prophetic figures and social movements no longer resonate in the depth of our souls? Have we forgotten how beautiful it is to be on fire for justice? … Integrity cannot be reduced to cupidity; decency cannot be reduced to chicanery; and justice cannot be reduced to market price.”

 - Cornel West, Black Prophetic Fire (Beacon Press, 2014) 

Cornel West is Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy at Princeton. He has also taught at Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris.  Dr. West has written 20 books and edited 13 books. He is best known for his classics: Race Matters, Democracy Matters, and his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. His latest book, Black Prophetic Fire, co-authored with  Christa Buschendorf, highlights six revolutionary African American leaders and examines the impact they had on their own eras and across the decades.  Dr. West appears frequently on the Bill Maher Show, Colbert Report, CNN, and C-Span, as well as Tavis Smiley’s PBS TV show. He can be heard weekly with Tavis Smiley on the national public radio program “Smiley & West.”  Dr. West has appeared in over 25 documentaries and films including Examined Life, Call & Response, Sidewalk, and Stand, in addition to three spoken word albums. Cornel West has a passion to communicate to a vast variety of publics to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.—a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.

Co-sponsored by University Relations and the Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley.

Oct 3, 2014
Bannan, ignatianleadership, BannanLectureArchives, Fall2014