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Celebration to include Harvard professor

Feb. 1, 2001

Activist known for just views to speak during

Black Heritage Week

By FLORA LEE

Reporter

Dr. Cornel West, a Harvard professor known throughout the world for his vision of compassion and justice, will speak at Baylor during Black Heritage Week. West will be the guest of the Association of Black Students' banquet at 7 p.m. Feb. 9 on the fifth floor of the Cashion Academic Center.

'A lot of groups in Waco and even the Dallas area have been calling asking us about this,' said Brea Ratliff, Black Heritage Week chairwoman.

Black Heritage Week begins Saturday and continues through Feb. 10.

West, who teaches African-American studies and religion, has been an activist since childhood. As a third-grader he convinced his classmates to stop saluting the American flag because of the United States' unfair treatment of African Americans.

West also looks to Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and the music of John Coltrane as sources of inspiration for his philosophy.

A philosopher and theologian, West has written 13 books, including the best-seller, Race Matters. He bases his vision of a compassionate and just world on his Baptist and African-American background.

'It's very important for Baylor to have Dr. West here,' said Dr. Scott Moore, an assistant professor of philosophy. 'He is a very important contemporary intellectual.'

Moore has used Race Matters and West's The American Evasion of Philosophy in his classes.

'The philosophy department has tried to get him [to speak here] for a number of years,' Moore said.

Dr. Caleb Oladipo, assistant professor of church-state studies, said, 'He is highly respected, not only in the United States, but also in the world.'

Oladipo, who first read West's works while living in Nigeria, said he looks forward to meeting West. As a student, Oladipo applied to Yale Divinity School, where West taught at the time, but arrived only to find that West had already moved to another university. While pursuing his studies, however, Oladipo heard West speak at a function.

'He has a wonderful voice for action,' Oladipo, ABS faculty advisor, said.

Oladipo uses Race Matters in his classes. He has read West's books and looks to him for inspiration.

'Although I never had him for a class, he was in many ways my teacher,' Oladipo said.

Dr. Marc Ellis, a university professor and director of the Center for Jewish and American studies, once gave a lecture with West on Israel and the Palestinians. Ellis described West as 'a very kind, gentle and prophetic man.'

Ellis said he believes West has 'a very strong message of justice and equality from a faith base, and he seeks to bridge communities: religious communities, cultural communities, intellectual communities.'

Banquet tickets cost $6 for ABS members and $12 for non-members and are on sale at the Bill Daniel Student Center.

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