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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Another best seller? New memoir explains various facets of icon Cornel West’s life

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When not teaching a full course load at Princeton University, Cornel West may be sharing the stage with Sonia Sanchez, dialoguing with Jay-Z about music’s place in our culture, appearing on “The Colbert Report,” or reading the script for the next Matrix film.

Is it possible to be both a serious intellectual and a cultural rock star? Readers can find out the answer in up close and personal stories of the world-renowned scholar who lives inside the signature black suit, and works in both Ivy League and prison classrooms.

His best-selling books, like the game-changing Race Matters, have sparked debates for decades at every level of society, challenging us to talk about race, religion, culture, philosophy, and politics. His newest book, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud by West and David Ritz is the life story of this self-possessed “bluesman in the life of the mind and jazzman in the world of ideas” as he moves through a lifetime of cultural experiences with deep passion, enthusiasm and grace.

As a professor, he has touched the lives of thousands of students both inside and outside of the classroom. As a lifelong activist, West has never shied from taking a stand for justice for every person – including society’s most vulnerable.

In a recent appearance on “Real Time” with Bill Maher, as the roundtable riffed about lack of justice, particularly for poor and working people dramatically affected by the mortgage crisis, West affectionately compared Bill Maher’s call to action to the calling of Christians to remain vigilant about social justice for all. In Brother West, he writes “…how do you transform Jesus’ love into social, political, and economic justice in the world today?”

His latest project is co-hosting “Smiley & West” with his longtime friend Tavis Smiley. The show, airing on Public Radio International (PRI), gives the man who usually answers the questions a chance to ask America exactly what’s been on his mind.

A man who effortlessly connects to people of all ages and generations, West writes: “I have an uncontrollable passion to communicate. I find great joy in life and seeing others smile and feel good about themselves, but that does not exempt anyone from thoughtful critique or intense scrutiny. For me, reexamination and rejuvenation go hand in hand. So critique and praise are inseparable.”

This new-styled renaissance man of extraordinary genius lives life fully and always inspires others toward active and critical examination of our world. He is, all at once, a brilliant scholar, passionate orator, icon, and deeply thoughtful and humble man who finds great joy in the human experience.

Learn about West’s life outside lecture halls, political punditry, cultural contributions, and his loves and losses of beautiful women. What drives this man? As the father of two, West writes candidly about his own upbringing and the loving relationships and encouragement he had from his own parents and extraordinary mentors and friends. Learn why it’s possible for him to be committed to both a serious intellectual rigor and the prophetic Christian faith he credits as the guiding beacon in his life. Who does West admire? You may be surprised by the answers.

Today, after beating stage four cancer and showing no signs of slowing down, West continues on the fascinating road of his calling, sharing knowledge with others, wherever the journey takes him.

He writes, “I like using the spotlight of public dialogues to highlight the struggle for love and justice … Teaching, like the preaching I was raised on, can be entertaining without losing an iota of substance … I like being a 21st century cosmopolitan open to the cultures of the globe and eager to learn from different peoples around the globe … I like being a free Black man who is never afraid to be joyously full of gut-bucket sophistication, refined funk, and deep love.”

The moments, experiences, and rich narrative captured in Brother West reveal the true essence of this complex and fascinating man.

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