The ever-animated and provocative author, activist, philosopher and scholar Cornel West addressed a full house at California State University, Dominguez Hills on Nov. 1, energizing approximately 1,000 visitors in the Loker Student Union Ballroom and spillover crowds on the first and second floor lobbies who listened to his talk via live audio feed.
Best known for his political and social activism, West lectures throughout the country on issues of democracy, race, gender and class, all subjects he covered during a spirited discourse on campus.
Anthony Vincent, a junior computer science major said he had heard of West through BET (Black Entertainment Television) and attended the lecture for extra credit. He said he was impressed by West.
“He did a good job. He made his point very valid. It was relatable to everything that is going on,” Vincent said. “He’s about helping other people at the bottom that are struggling and need help. And that relates to me.”
Vincent noted that he will heed West’s advice to use his voice by participating in the California general election, “My opinion counts. I’m going to vote.”
For Jamelle Fortuné, a senior majoring in behavioral science major and minoring in Africana studies who learned about West through her studies, hearing what he had to say in person was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it dispelled some of the negative portrayals of him in the media.
“He inspired me to better. He confirmed for me the love that I have for people is worth something,” Fortuné said.
Of his recommendation to build a healthy society from the bottom out, rather than the top down, Fortuné said, “I think he meant that people at the bottom would appreciate more and would give more because they feel for one another, because everybody at the bottom has the same struggle no matter what color [they are].”
While his discussion generally focused on social activism and civic responsibility, he spent considerable time discussing self-examination.
“A life without self-examination is not worth living,” West said. “In the short time between the womb and tomb, the question is, ‘Who you gonna be?’”
Jamaica Carter, a senior liberal studies major, said West inspired her to continue her education and do follow her dreams.
“The thing that touched me the most was the part when he was talking about us as students, what we need to do, how we need not to just succeed, but to be great,” Carter said. “He was very well-spoken, very informative, and very straight to point about what his vision was.”
“An Evening with Dr. Cornel West” was co-sponsored by Toro Productions, Loker Student Union, Associated Students, Inc., Multicultural Center, Office of Student Life, Labor Studies Club, Sociology Club, and University Housing.