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.


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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