June 2, 1953: Happy Birthday to African American Studies Scholar Cornel West!

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Happy Birthday to philosopher, political activist and scholar of African American studies, Cornel West.

West was born on June 2, 1953, in Tulsa, Oklahoma to a father who was a civilian U.S. Air Force administrator and an elementary school teacher/principal mother. His family later moved to Sacramento, California.

At the age of 17, West attended Harvard University on a scholarship. He would later graduate in 3 years magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern languages and literature. He later attended graduate school at Princeton University. West received his doctoral degree in 1980 and went on to teach philosophy and African American studies.

West has published several books which analyze class, race, and justice. One of his best-known works, Race Matters, is a collection of essays that was published after the riots in Los Angeles after the beating of Rodney King.

West has also recorded a hip-hop spoken-word album, Sketches of My Culture (2001), and a collection of spoken-word and music, Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations (2007). From 2010 through 2013, West co-hosted a radio program with Tavis Smiley, called Smiley and West.

 

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Cornel West

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