No one is more candid about the complexities of race in America than Cornel West, professor, author, musician and philosopher. He brought his candor to RIT as the keynote speaker for the 30th annual Expressions of King’s Legacy Celebration, held in late January.
The event also included performances by Garth Fagan Dance, the RIT/NTID Dance Company and poet Joshua Bennett, who read excerpts from his book, Jesus Riding Shotgun.
“This is an institution that supports critical thinking, therefore we always make an effort to choose a speaker that will continue to force our society to deal with the important issues of the day,” said Kevin McDonald, vice president for diversity and inclusion. “As one of the premier public intellectuals, Dr. West forces people to think critically and talks about current issues and their impact on society.”
At the event, Wes urged those in the crowd not to think about self-enrichment. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he said, “wanted young people to use their success for something bigger than themselves.”
West, professor of philosophy and Christian practices at Union Theological Seminary, often speaks of the King legacy and social justice. Prior to his tenure at Union Theological Seminary, he taught at Princeton University, Yale University, Harvard University and the University of Paris. He has written 19 books and is best known for his classic Race Matters, Democracy Matters, and his new memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud.
Garth Fagan Dance, now in its 40th year, is one of the premier modern dance companies in the United States. The troupe and its artistic director have received accolades for their performances and Fagan has won numerous awards, including a Tony Award for Best Choreography for the Disney musical, The Lion King.