Dr. Cornel West Public Lecture and Q&A - November 6, 2015
Dr. Vida Robertson, Director of CCRS, Interviews Dr. Cornel West
Professor, author and civil rights activist Dr. Cornel West delivered a compelling presentation on social justice Nov. 6 at UHD. More than 450 guests viewed West's presentation in the Wilhelmina Cullen Robertson Auditorium, while another 150 watched from overflow rooms where the presentation was simulcast.
In his provocative monologue, West praised UHD as a university where students learn to think independently. "What kind of courage did you exemplify in the short time you were here? Did you have the courage to think critically for yourself? That's the difference between high-quality education and cheap schooling. University of Houston-Downtown is not about cheap schooling. You want what the Greeks call paideia, that deep education, that turning of the soul."
West praised educators, saying that "being a teacher is a sacred calling," and urged students to "be a long-distance runner in your education as you learn how to Socratically engage in critical reflection." He invoked the words of civil rights activists Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and the lyrics of Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding and Gil Scott-Heron; for good measure, he dropped a couple of local names in references to Archie Bell & the Drells ("Tighten Up") and Beyoncé (Destiny's Child's "Say My Name").
Vida Robertson, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of English and director of the Center for Critical Race Studies, closed the program. Earlier in the day, Robertson conducted a video interview with West for the University's archives. West met with faculty and had lunch with UHD students from the Minority Male Initiative, Model UN, NAACP, STRIVE and the College of Humanities & Social Sciences. Before the program began, West took part in a reception with UHD leaders, alumni, supporters and friends.
The program was sponsored by UHD's Center for Critical Race Studies; Cultural Enrichment Center; and Departments of Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, and English in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences.
UHD hosted the program as part of its participation in City of Houston Citizenship Month, of which it is a co-sponsor. The sixth annual volunteer-driven citywide celebration, which takes place during November, celebrates Houston's civic diversity.