CORNEL WEST Biography - Famous Scientists


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Cornel West is currently the Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion at Princeton             
University. Prior to his appointment at Princeton, he was the Alphonse Fletcher, Jr. University       
Professor at Harvard University teaching in Afro-American Studies and Philosophy of                   
Religion. He received his AB from Harvard University and his MA and Ph.D. from Princeton             
University. He taught at Yale, Union Theological Seminary and Princeton University where he           
was Chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies. He is an author of numerous articles           
and books including The Cornel West Reader, Race Matters and The African American Century.           
Dr. West was born in Tulsa, OK. His father was a civilian Air Force Administrator, and his           
mother, an elementary school teacher, would later become the principal. The West family               
moved a great deal and finally settled in a middle-class neighborhood in Sacramento, CA. It           
was there that the young West began what would become a lifelong habit of protest by                 
refusing to salute the flag because of the second-class status of African Americans in the           
As a boy, West was greatly impressed by the Baptist church. West had been deeply touched by           
the stories of parishioners who, only two generations from slavery, told stories of Blacks           
maintaining their religious faith during the most trying of times. West was equally attracted to     
the commitment of the Black Panthers, whose office was nearby his boyhood church. It was             
from the Panthers that West began to understand the importance of community based political           
action. But it was a biography of Teddy Roosevelt that West borrowed from neighborhood               
bookmobile that would steer his academic future. West felt an affinity to Roosevelt, as both         
were asthmatics. He read how Roosevelt had overcome his asthma, went to Harvard and                   
became a great speaker. So at eight years old, even though he wasn’t exactly sure what it was,       
West decided he would go to Harvard.                                                                 
And so he did, graduating from Harvard magna cum laude in three years. Martin Kilson, one of         
West’s professors, recalls him as “the most intellectually aggressive and highly cerebral             
student I have taught in my 30 years here.”                                                           
West then went on to Princeton University where he received his M.A. and his Ph.D. then               
went on to head the Department of Afro-American Studies at Princeton University. After               
reviving that department successfully, W est moved to Harvard University where he                     
served as Professor of Afro-American Studies and Philosophy of Religion. Recently, he was             
W.E.B. Du Bois Lecturer at Harvard. His speaking style, formed by his roots in the Baptist           
church, blends drama, knowledge and inspiration.                                                     
His book credits include: Prophesy Deliverance: An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity,         
Post-Analytic Philosophy, Prophetic Fragments, The American Evasion of Philosophy, The Ethical       
Dimensions of Marxist Thought, Breaking Bread, prophetic Reflections and Prophetic Thought in         
Modern Times. His breakthrough book, Race Matters, was published in 1993. This book quickly           
achieved bestseller status and gained the attention of Time magazine and Newsweek, causing           
both publications to run extensive profile articles about West in June 1993. His book Keep Faith,     
was also published in 1993. Jews and Blacks: Let the Healing Begin, a book he has co-written with     
Tiffum magazine editor Michael Lerner, was published in the spring of 1995.