On Friday, January 15, a group of Knox students traveled to Naperville, IL to see Dr. Cornel West speak at North Central College. Dr. West is a well-known philosopher, author, professor and contemporary civil rights activist. He spoke on the “true” legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the 50th anniversary of King addressing the college from the same stage.
West discussed social injustice in the context of the recent tragedy in Haiti. He quoted King’s speech “Beyond Vietnam”: “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth.”
West implored to audience to seek justice for the poor and suffering of Haiti and of the rest of the world. West believes that developing the compassion and love that King felt for all is necessary to solve the world’s problems. However, West cautioned his audience against simply imitating Rev. King. Citing a poem by James Weldon Johnson often referred to as “The Black National Anthem,” West said, “It’s ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ not ‘Lift Every Echo.'”