Harvard professor Cornel West to discuss race and quality of life

Cornel West

The increase of racist incidents in Baltimore, Ferguson, Charlottesville and nationwide, alongside movements such as Black Lives Matter and Standing Rock, has made the need for conversations on race in the United States today one of continued urgency.

As the guest speaker at this year’s Collins Distinguished Speakers’ Series, philosopher, scholar, civil rights activist, author and Harvard Divinity School professor of philosophy Cornel West will address these topics in his lecture, “Race Matters … A Timely Discussion on the Fabric of America.”

The lecture will take place Friday, April 26, from 7 to 9 p.m. in Room 156, Straub Hall.

Drawing from the title of his 1993 book “Race Matters,” which was published following the Los Angeles riots and examines the crisis of black leadership in the United States, West said he hopes to inspire, unsettle and challenge people.

“We need to take a critical look at ‘We the People’ through the lens of these complicated issues and make connections about the deep questions of quality of life in this country,” he said.

It’s not the first time West has been to the University of Oregon. In 2013, he lectured at the UO Multicultural Center’s “Social Justice, Real Justice” conference and said he is looking forward to revisiting the UO campus.

A prolific writer and author of 20 books — including the classics “Race matters,” “Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism” and his memoir, “Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud” — West’s passion for social equality is driven by a desire to keep the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. alive through truth-telling and bearing witness to love and justice.

“In the face of so much hatred you can still try to teach the world how to love,” he said.

Sponsored by the UO Department of English, the annual Collins Distinguished Speakers’ Series is free and open to the public. Past luminaries have included intellectuals and artists, Pulitzer Prize winners of fiction, National Book Award winners and renowned political activists.

By Sharleen Nelson, University Communications