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Mount Ida in the News, Speakers, Student life

Dr. Cornel West Speaks at Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Luncheon

As the signature event of Mount Ida College’s 20th annual celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, Dr. Cornel West addressed more than 300 students, faculty, and staff at a luncheon on Tuesday, January 23. Dr. West, Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and author of Race Matters—a classic work in the realm of race relations—spoke to the history of challenges around diversity and inclusion that are still facing us as a society today. He implored Mount Ida students to follow Dr. King’s lead and live wisely, decently, and with integrity through respect and kindness to others.

Cornel West at Podium

“We live in a moment of spiritual blackout. What is spiritual blackout? It is the relative eclipse of and collapse of integrity, honesty, decency, and courage. More and more young people are told that to be human at the highest level is to be the smartest and richest in the room. So instead of love of wisdom, there is a quest for smartness.”

“Let the others be smart, you must be wise,” counseled Dr. West.

“You must have an aspiration to greatness. The last thing that any individual, the last thing that any democracy needs is an obsession to smartness and richness with no understanding of what it means to love truth,” he continued. “If you don’t love truth, you open the door to mendacity, which is evidenced by the social injustice in our world.”

This year’s event theme, Reviving the Dream, invites us to reflect on the current state of affairs in our society. Further, it serves as a call to continue the work against social injustice throughout our community and beyond, as Dr. King’s teachings, writings, and actions encouraged. Each year, we are reminded to think about what we can do to achieve the “beloved country,” as described by Dr. King.

In his opening remarks, President Barry Brown stated, “Dr. Cornel West took up the moral mantle and crusade for social justice, fairness, equity, and class struggle fifty years ago, and has been and is today, the honest, clear, and compelling voice of our nation to what is fair and just. He is a fearless voice to raise our consciousness around racial and economic injustice in every part of our society—as long as his voice is heard, we can continue the road begun by Dr. King.”

Barry Brown Cornel West
Dr. West opened his address by applauding President Brown’s activism in Selma, AL in 1965, when he and other Harvard students drove from Cambridge to help defeat the injustices in that city.

Cornel West StudentsA musical performance by James Lesu’i opened the luncheon, followed by an invocation from College Chaplain Br. Joseph Anderson. Patrick Romero-Aldaz, Dean of Student Leadership and Transition Programs, offered a welcome and introduction of President Brown, and McKenzie Bumpus, Associated Student Government President introduced Dr. West.

The weeklong celebration honoring the legacy of Dr. King and the 50th anniversary of his untimely assassination featured a number of presentations, film screenings, and gatherings designed to educate students on the history of social injustice and current conditions.

Learn more about our Social Justice Programs