Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Cornel West

This weeks Writer’s Quote Wednesday is dedicated to Cornel West. West (born June 2, 1953), is an American philosopher, academic, activist, author, public intellectual, and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton.

Formerly at Harvard University, West is now a professor of Religion at Princeton. West says his intellectual contributions draw from such diverse traditions as the African-American Baptist Church, Marxism, pragmatism, transcendentalism, and Anton Chekhov.

He has written a lot of books, the most popular of which is probably Race Matters. I will be honest and admit I haven’t read his books but I have listened to his podcast with Travis Smiley called Smiley & WestSadly they are no longer making anymore episodes but I still go back and listen to the good ones from time to time.

And, in case you didn’t know, he made his film debut in “The Matrix” and has collaborated with Prince, Jill Scott, Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, KRS-One and the late Gerald Levert to make a few spoken work albums.

West has been a major influence in my life ever since I saw him in the documentary Examined Life in 2008. Of course he had been working long before that but back then I didn’t know that I loved philosophy as much as I did. To this day when people ask me what I want to be when I grow up I say I want to do what Cornel West does. I want to get paid to write and talk about how I feel about the world.

“I have tried to be a man of letters in love with ideas in order to be a wiser and more loving person, hoping to leave the world just a little better than I found it.”

Cornel West, The Cornel West Reader

This quote embodies everything I want to do. I want to be a woman of letters, devoted to literary and scholarly pursuits. I am in love with ideas and I am working towards being a wiser and more loving person. My greatest hope is that I could have some small influence on this world, and leave it in better shape than I found it.

That is why I am here, and that is why I write.


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