Dr Cornel West is not like most Black scholars, who write books and give speeches. He is also an activist and willing to go to jail or even die for Black people if necessary.
Dr West was recently arrested in Ferguson, Missouri as part of the month of resistance against police terror and mass incarceration. The activist stated very clearly, in advance, that he wasn’t simply seeking to give a speech or make a statement. Instead, he was ready to give up his freedom for the plight of Black Americans.
“I didn’t come here to give a speech,” West said during a speech at Saint Louis University’s Chaifetz Arena. “I came here to go to jail.”
During the speech, West said that it was important for older civil rights activists to work together with the youth to achieve meaningful change in the world. He told black youth that they should “love themselves, respect themselves in such a way that we can mobilize and organize. I want to try and make sure their voices are heard. … The larger system has been victimizing and coming at them.”
The event at which West was speaking became energized when the audience demanded that local activists be given a chance to take the stage as well. The group chanted “Let them speak” when referring to St. Louis rapper Tef Poe and Ashley Yates another activist.
Dr. West says that the Black middle class has been made weak when it comes to fighting for the poor and incarcerated. In fact, he used a special term to describe them.
“Our middle-class brothers and sisters have been reniggerized,” he said.
West said that America is a nation where the richest 1% control 42% of the wealth and that 40% of all Black children are living in poverty. He described this chain of events as a “crime against humanity.”
Dr. West, according to Your Black World blogger April Taylor, has been arrested for his role in the protest. It appears that he is a man of his word.
In the video below, Dr West speaks at the New Paradigm forum in New York City and explains why African Americans must learn to fight and sacrifice for their freedom in order to effectively combat racism. Dr West has joined with Carl Dix, Michelle Alexander and others for a national Month of Resistance against mass incarceration, which is considered the leading civil rights issue of the 21st century.