MARCH 20, 2001

CONTACT: Pat Wright, 661/664-2138, pwright@csub.edu


Speaker examines race relations in the United States


WestNoted author and Harvard University professor Cornel West will give the Charles W. Kegley Memorial Lecture on Tuesday, April 10, at 7 p.m. in the Dore Theater at California State University, Bakersfield. West is the Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor at Harvard University, where he teaches Afro-American studies and philosophy of religion.

A prolific writer and dynamic speaker, West has carved out an extraordinary career examining African-American critical thought; cultural criticism; social theory; modern and post-modern philosophy and literature, and the future of American youth. He is a scholar at the WEB DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard.

According to Christopher Meyers, Kegley Institute of Ethics director, in West's latest book, "The Cornel West Reader," (published in 2000) "West confronts the 'monumental eclipse of hope and the unprecedented collapse of meaning' in American race relations. He teaches that racial division fosters the poverty and paranoia, the despair and distrust, that undermine our nation's democratic process."

West's philosophy is not an abstract discipline, Meyers said, but rather a "polemical weapon that attempts to transform linguistic, social, cultural and political tradition to increase the scope of individual development and democratic actions." His work - influenced by traditions as diverse as the Baptist Church, American transcendentalism and literature, the Black Panthers, and European philosophy - seeks to revive the best of liberalism, populism and democratic socialism.

West has received critical acclaim for his work. Of his book, "Keeping Faith," the Boston Globe said: "West brings an acute intelligence, wide reading, and training in philosophy and theology to bear on the irrationalities in all political camps. The left, the black movement and all others would profit by a careful reading of 'Keeping Faith.'"

And Patricia Williams, author of "The Alchemy of Race and Rights," said of West: "The best of Cornel West ­ which is to say the best of contemporary philosophical insight, the best of inspired theological vision, the best of what public intellectual debate can aspire to."

Among his numerous other published works are the two-volume "Beyond Eurocentrism and Multiculturalism" (Common Courage Press, 1993), "Breaking Bread"(South End Press, 1991), "Race Matters" (Beacon Press, 1993), "Keeping Faith" (Routledge, 1993), "Jews and Blacks Let the Healing Begin" (Putnam Books, 1995), co-authored with Michael Lerner; and "Restoring Hope: Conversations on the Future of Black America" (Beacon Press, October 1997).

West is a popular lecturer. His speaking style, formed by his roots in the Baptist Church, provides a blend of drama, knowledge, and inspiration.

West completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard and earned his master's and doctorate at Princeton University. He was professor of religion and director of the Afro-American Studies department at Princeton before joining Harvard in 1994.

The lecture is open to the public free of charge.

The lecture series honors founding faculty member Charles W. Kegley, who joined the CSUB faculty in 1970 to develop the philosophy and religious studies department. The institute was founded to support studies in ethics and society.

For more information about the institute and the lecture series, please call 661/664-3149.


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