For those of you who say there are no moving or powerful voices left in America, you might want to direct your attention to a 20-minute clip of American philosopher and activist Dr. Cornel West speaking in a Manhattan church on April 6th of this year. In it West delivers a dizzying, fiery, and tear-jerking sermon reminiscent of the greatest moments in the tradition of American political speech.
The Stop Mass Incarceration Network organized the event, A Call to Act, and it’s no surprise that the Stop Mass Incarceration Network exists or that Dr. West participated. The US now has more prisoners and prisons than any other country on the planet, a fact West is well aware of as he regularly speaks out over the New Jim Crow and to inmates serving time. In fact, the land of the free is now home to more prisons than colleges. Furthermore, police in the US killed more civilians during the month of March than the United Kingdom’s police force have killed in a century. Things have gotten so bad that career lawman William “Dub” Lawrence has come out in full force against the militarization of police saying, “I witnessed my son-in-law killed by the SWAT team I founded.” The very founder of the SWAT team we know all too well has gone on to make a film funded through Kickstarter against police violence that ended up receiving the Audience Award at SXSW.
West isn’t one for just words. He has been arrested multiple times for protest. When he was recently arrested in Ferguson he was quoted with saying to a crowd, “I didn’t come here to give a speech. I came here to go to jail.” Throughout the free Call to Act gathering in Manhattan, Dr. West reiterated his drive as a political-spiritual activist being centered on love, justice, accountability, and closed his speech by calling for a public assembly to express those same values for all those fallen due to police violence to meet at Union Square on April 14th. As emotionally inspiring as Dr. West’s words are, they are not hollow, but punctuated by a career of tangible political action.
Why aren’t people like this running for President?
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