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Cornel West encourages self-examination

Cornel West, this year’s Fasnacht Lecture Series Speaker, spoke on Friday in the Ann and Steve Morgan Auditorium. West spoke on the flawed nature of capitalism and the recent revolution in Egypt and courage, which he calls the enabling virtue. West’s talk was the first given in the newly remodeled auditorium. West, a best-selling author, has taught at Harvard, Yale, Harvard, Union Theological Sem­in­ary and the University of Paris. / photo by Warren Bessant

Erica Lynn Lares
Staff Writer

Cornel West, best selling author, national radio host and educator spoke of “Hope on a Tightrope,” in the newly renovated Ann and Steve Morgan Auditorium last Friday.

“Students, be more courageous in your education,” he told the packed house. “Don’t confuse education with schooling.”

West’s lecture was a part of the Fasnacht lecture series, which is an annual series of lectures from prominent speakers, named after the University of La Verne’s longest-serving president.

The lecture series was created about 15 years ago and is funded by donors that want to bring well-known speakers to ULV.

West addressed the issues of race and identity, leadership, courage, education and social justice.

He explained that school supplies a person with skills, education teaches individuals to examine themselves and allows the individual to learn from what they examined.

West spoke especially to the young people in the audience.

He spoke on America’s pop culture and said that it is all about what you see and not what you get.

Today seems to be all about money and appearance, rather than what really matters, West said.

“If you think looks are going to get you far in life, you better listen up because it is not about what you look like but what you know,” West said.

It is about what you can offer the world while you are living on this planet, West said.

West graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in three years.

He later received his master’s and doctorate in philosophy at Princeton.

He has taught students at Yale, Harvard, Union Theo­logical Sem­in­ary and the University of Paris.

He is best know for his bestsellers “Democracy Matters,” “Race Matters” and his memoir, “Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud.”

“The lecture was really powerful,” said Deveeda Smith, an athletic training. “It motivates you to be more than just a student in a classroom, but to have an obligation to your community.”

West also spoke on the issue of teachers in America, and how American society values the profession of teaching compared to other countries.

“The professors at La Verne do educate the students, but it is an individual choice to want to be educated,” junior political science and economics major Ava Jahanvash said.

“The description he gave of teachers and how they are valued and respected in other countries compared to American teachers resonated really well with me since I want to be a teacher,” senior English major Lauryn Wingate said.

West asked the audience to examine themselves and think about what it means to be human, and what obligations individuals have to their community.

“The lecture was interesting because it was not your typical black history speech,” Jahanvash said.

“Although this event was put on for black history month, he made the lecture geared toward all not just one specific race,” she said.

Erica Lynn Lares can be reached at

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