Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cornel West


I would have to give Dr. Cornel West some credit, or blame, for pushing me into political work. It was 1992 or 93 I think. Probably his Race Matters book tour, so whenever that came out.

Anyway, he came to St. Paul, Minnesota to speak at Hamline University. I went to see him and the place was so packed that I had to stand out in the cold and hear his speech on loudspeakers.

The phrase I remember from that speech was that we needed what he called "radical democracy." It was a concept I had never heard of, but it immediately made sense to me.

Within a year I had quit my job as an editor and was working as a dreaded "community organizer" on the North Side of Minneapolis. That led to more political work at United for a Fair Economy in Boston.

Though I'm old and grizzled now, and deeply suspicious of most political slogans, manifestoes, and ideologies, Dr. West's concept of "radical democracy" still speaks to me.

2 comments:

Karlissimo del Banco said...

How did Cornel West define "radical democracy"?

Chris Hartman said...

Thanks for asking, Signor del Banco. See this post for my answer.

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