Dr. Cornel West

Posted on in Art + Soul by Roy Strassman

Nourse Theatre, April 10

Cornel West barreled into town like a Level 5 tornado, tearing up San Francisco’s Nourse Theatre—but leaving no wreckage. The event was sponsored by the California Institute of Integral Studies. Fittingly introduced by CIIS expressive arts therapy professor Denise Boston, Dr. West took to the lectern, face aglow, attired in his characteristic tux-like black suit, full beard, and black-rimmed glasses. The audience was immediately captured by this dynamo, who, after tendering a sweet, heartfelt greeting, launched into the evening’s topic: the burden carried by African American men.

Touching upon the continuing disenfranchisement of the black community, the educational system’s built-in bias against blacks having equal opportunity for a decent education, and the disproportionately high rates of African American male incarceration, Dr. West moved on to the four questions posed by an 89-year-old W. E. B. Du Bois to James Baldwin that well describe the essence of the black man’s burden:

How does one maintain integrity in the face of oppression?

What does honesty do in the face of deception?

What does decency do in the face of insult (assault)?

How does virtue meet brute force?

Dr. West kept the audience raptly engaged during his lecture by dint of his passion and humor—and the seriousness of the subject matter—keeping it ever dynamic with several jazz and R&B references and anecdotes. The evening concluded with a lively Q&A which included deep and often quite subtle questions that were addressed with equally deep and considered response.

A brother-man of peace, love, depth, and passion, Dr. West is a wheel on fire. After his closing words, the audience leapt to its feet, showering thunderous gratitude on a man we all admire.


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Join our once-monthly newsletter to get all the latest news & resources

No spam. Unsubscribe any time.