Mr. West Is In The Building

Engaging Education (E2) and Student Media –– with the endorsement of A/BSA –– organized a Speaker Blowout: Ferguson, Racism and the Media event on Thursday, Nov. 20 at UC Santa Cruz. The keynote speaker was the most notable Dr. Cornel West, with opening speaker alumnae Tiffany Loftin.

An author, public intellectual, academic, and activist, Dr. Cornel West has received his undergraduate education at Harvard University, and was the first African-American to receive a Ph.D at Princeton University in Philosophy. He has gone on to teach at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, Harvard University and University of Paris. The majority of Dr. West’s work focuses on analyzing the role of race, gender, and class in American society.

During his lecture at Speaker Blowout: Ferguson, Racism and the Media he addressed issues of racism within not only what is occurring in Ferguson, Missouri but issues of racism we see within our immediate communities as well. He touched upon the ways in which media affects the way current events are portrayed and reported. Dr. West told advised his audience, “Don’t give up on mainstream media. Try to demystify.”

Dr. West spoke a lot about the manner in which individuals should or could act in the face of evil –– in regards of feeling oppressed, being oppressed, and being subject to the ignorance of the privileged. He encouraged his audience to not give into those evils and focus on sole revenge, but rather to shift the anger and frustration that might be felt into something bigger. To shift that anger and frustration toward healthier and more progressive ways.

“What kind of life are you going to decide to live in the face of these forms of evil coming at you?” he said.

Dr. West also made connections to the events in Ferguson, to the events happening in California across UC campuses due to the tuition increase that passed this week. He did not hesitate to walk over to where student protesters are occupying Humanities 2 building and give them words of encouragement and support.

Dr. West showed his support and let students know that they were allowed to use his name for any endorsement they needed for this fight against UC regents. In a crowded and stuffy room full of energy and emotion, Dr. West said through a mega-phone, “When it comes to war and prison, they find money overnight, but when it comes to education, all of a sudden they’ve got a budgetary challenge and they want to increase tuition.”  

Student protesters lit up with hope and inspiration from the encouraging words Dr. West spoke. He mentioned he would have liked to stay there all night, but he had a flight to catch at 5a.m. the following morning.

You can watch the full video of Dr. Cornel West’s lecture during Speaker Blowout here:

You can watch the full video of Dr. Cornel West speaking to students occupying Humanities 2 building at UCSC here: