Cornel West comes to WKU


Princeton professor, author, activist and outspoken black leftist Cornel West will be speaking frankly about race relations in the United States on Friday. 

The lecture, entitled “Race and Democracy in the Age of Obama,” serves as the keynote address for WKU’s Black History Month celebration. It will be held tomorrow at Van Meter Hall at 7:30 p.m. The free event is open to the public. 

The event is co-sponsored by the WKU Black History Celebration and Cultural Preservation committee in honor of Black History month. 


“Racism is a moral catastrophe, most graphically seen in the prison industrial complex and targeted police surveillance in black and brown ghettos rendered invisible in public discourse,” West wrote in an editorial for The New York Times, called “Dr. King Weeps From His Grave.” 

West, a frequent face on The Colbert Report and CNN, spends his career advocating for democracy and equality. 

Once an outspoken supporter of President Obama in 2007, West changed his tune after Obama’s election, referring to him as “the black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs.” 

“You’ve got to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer,” West said in a 2011 interview. “A thermostat shapes the climate of opinion; a thermometer just reflects it. If you’re just going to reflect it and run by the polls, then you’re not going to be a transformative president.” 

Kenneth Johnson, assistant director of Student Activities, said the university chose West because he represented the exchange of ideas, culture, and expression they were looking for in a speaker. 

“We look forward to students being engaged by one of the prominent figures in philosophy and activism,” Johnson said in an email.  

   “WKU is excited to host Dr. West and look forward to adding to the rich tapestry of discussions that exist at WKU and in the Bowling Green Community.”

Physicist Michio Kaku will round out the 2013-2014 Cultural Enhancement Series on Mar. 17