“If you don’t want to just be successful, but if you really want to be great: greatness has to do with your service for others and your love for the loveless,” These were the words spoken by Dr. Cornel West in his speech on Oct. 3. The speech was entitled “Making Abolishing Poverty a Priority in the Presidential Election,” but also dealt with other contemporary problems including racism and issues plaguing the mentality of American youth.
From start to finish, the lecture contained something intended to get the attention of all generations present. However, West paid particular attention to the students in the audience. Upon finishing, the floor was open to a series of questions and answers from the community, and the students were given top priority in terms of inquiry.
With regards to poverty, West was emphatic about how the issues would play out in the upcoming election as well as their effect on society: “America is a nation with so much potential, wasted.” West continued, claiming “the dehumanizing effects of greed, avarice and indifference” as the cause of diminishing opportunities among students.
To conclude, West left everyone with a positive message on how to coexist to make society better. This was tied into racism–West’s advice to young minorities includes not conforming to societal pressure and white perception in order to be successful. “I don’t need to prove anything to my white brothers and sisters. They do not constitute authority to me.” West explained that his care for solving real issues such as “decrepit housing” or “conflict in the Middle East” outweighed the need to prove one’s charisma, ending his speech with a call to action for those who want to see change in this nation.
The time allotted for the questions and answers portion of the presentation was only a half an hour due to the scheduled projection of the Presidential Debate some minutes later. The time had come to only five minutes left in the session while the majority of students waiting had yet ask their question. When brought to his attention West asked the audience “How about skipping the book signing? I would much rather get to all of these questions.” After receiving the go ahead, West stayed and continued to answer questions.
Even though he had declared earlier in the evening that he had planned to stay and watch the debate, holding the book signing afterward was new information to all including the events staff. Before the lecture was over, the bookstore had packed up his books leaving many unable to take away an autographed copy.
When asked how she felt about this Hofstra Senior Raychelle Ransome said that she was a “little disappointed in not being able to get the book. “The lecture really sparked my fire and made me want to work harder for my own cause,” Ransome added quickly. The evening concluded with smiles on the faces of students who met with West. Clearly, his insight had made an impression on them.
– Jeanine Russaw