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Dr. Cornel West

#blackhistoryProfilesJanuary 31, 2022

6/2/1953 – Present

Dr. Cornel West is an American philosopher, intellectual, author, professor, activist, and actor. As an author, he is best known for Race Matters, Democracy Matters, and for his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving out Loud.

West was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1952, and grew up in Sacramento. As a young man, he participated in civil rights demonstrations and organized protests, inspired by Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, and James Cone. He attended Harvard College, studying Near Eastern languages and civilization, and graduated magna cum laude in 1970. He became the first African American to earn a PhD in philosophy from Princeton and went on to teach philosophy, religion, and African American studies at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and elsewhere.

West published his best known book, Race Matters, a year after the Los Angeles riots. The collection of essays explored the crisis in leadership in the Black community, Black conservatism, Black-Jewish relations, myths about Black sexuality, and the legacy of Malcolm X.

In addition to hosting radio shows and podcasts on race and social affairs, West has published several spoken word and hip hop albums. He also has several film and TV credits, including the role of Councillor West in the Matrix and the Matrix Revolutions. West married Dr. Annahita Mahdavi, a social sciences professor, in 2021.

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