North, South, East, Dr. WEST…

Last Sunday, on the eve of MLK Jr. Day and the 2013 Presidential Inauguration, I went to hear Dr. Cornel West speak at Kennesaw State University. If you have ever heard Dr. West speak, you know that he is a dynamic opinionated speaker yet sometimes very controversial. Any opportunity that I get to listen to him, I do. Not because I agree with everything he says, because I don’t, but because every time he speaks I learn something. This time was no different. He spoke vividly of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and what he truly should for, he spoke about the times then and the times now. He also briefly spoke about the differences in Dr. King and President Barack Obama.

He mentioned that Dr. King worked and marched for justice for all people, not just blacks, but ALL people. Dr. King also marched for the impoverished, in the cities of New York to the slums in India. One of the differences that he spoke passionately about was that the bulk of the country’s wealth resides with an elite few. He made it clear that he was disappointed, and that Dr. King would have been disappointed, to know that the government used or “found” billions of dollars to bail out banks and automotive companies yet nearly 50 million Americans are living in poverty and struggling to survive. Dr. West touched on the thousands of people dying overseas in war, yet, the President really does “nothing”. He also spoke about how Dr. King stood behind his Christian values and never went astray but he does not see this same allegiance in President Obama.

More recently, Dr. West spoke on a panel where he states that President Obama didn’t deserve to be sworn in on Martin Luther King Jr.’s bible. President Obama used two bibles during his Inauguration ceremonies, one of the bibles belonged to Abraham Lincoln and the other bible belonged to Dr. King. I have posted a link to the video below for your reference.

Cornel West: President Obama Doesn’t Deserve To Be Sworn In With MLK’s Bible [VIDEO]

Wow. Dr. West thought that President Obama should not have used Dr. King’s bible because he contradicts the beliefs and principles in which Dr. King stood for. Dr. West’s position was not surprising to me at all but it did make me think. First, President Obama is not Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nor should he be expected to do everything like he did. Dr King was a great leader, preacher and social activist. President Obama is a politician; he is the President of the United States. Although I studied political science in college, I’m no political expert, but even I know about the politics of politics. In this country, presidents are people-pleasers and they try not to “rock the boat” too much. Often times they are finding a means to an end. As president, there are certain unwritten rules to be followed that do not apply to social activists and leaders. I say all this to say, everything takes time. I truly believe that the president used the bibles, or both of the bibles, to show how we are progressing forward. It took over 200 years before a black president was elected to led this country and there is STILL a long way to go. One day, there will be a President that truly uploads Dr. King’s beliefs and principles but that comes with time. Nothing worth having comes easy, as we have learned from Dr. King, but we must keep moving forward one step at a time, one day at a time.

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3 thoughts on “North, South, East, Dr. WEST…

  1. 90% of the complaints that people have about President Obama have nothing to do with President Obama. People all over the world complain about their leader, even those who voted for him/her. It’s human nature to expect miracles out of our leaders, when the reality is that the purpose of a leader is to lead, and not necessarily to do. If people want change in their nation it doesn’t happen at the capitol, but in the neighborhood. I am not saying that the policies enacted by the president and the courses of action taken by the president aren’t influential, of course they are, but at the end of the day it is up to the people, in any nation, to create the country that they want to live in. It is because of this that life in the US (as a whole, in terms of our culture and general day to day life) doesn’t REALLY change all that much no matter who is voted into the White House. I mean, if I look back on my life, and take out of the equation certain ‘hot’ political issues, the country I grew up in was pretty much the same under Reagan, Daddy Bush, Clinton, and even Baby Bush, and while I no longer live in the US, when I visit home, Obama’s USA looks like the same old USA. This is because real change happens when the zeitgeist of the people shifts, not when a leader says it does, of course the choice of the voters is often a direct reflection of this shift in zeitgeist, but as you said, the changes come slowly and not overnight. Another factor that I find amusing is that people don’t realize that our government was specifically designed to prevent a president from having too much power…and this is a good thing. Sure, it is frustrating when ‘your guy’ is in power and he can’t make all the changes right away that you were supposedly voting for, but then again it is a relief when the ‘other guy’ wins and you can sleep soundly at night knowing that he can’t change TOO much. Along these same lines, if Obama doesn’t compromise with the conservatives, then they sure as hell aren’t going to compromise with us the next time around. With all of its faults, the system works relatively well, even as we pull our hair out. All in all I think that the country is moving in a positive direction. The widening gap between the rich and the poor is disconcerting, but this is a global phenomenon and not an American one. What I do see is that we are getting closer to reaching an equality of fairness for all members of society within the confines of the unfair system that we live in, and that is certainly ‘more’ fair than being hit with a double whammy and having extra unfairness dropped on your head on top of the fact that the rich have all the money and power. Of course being a white male from a middle-class family plenty of people would tell me that I have no idea what I am talking about, and fair enough, but there is still a far cry between making less money because of your sex or skin color and not being considered for the job at all because of it. Gays are free to go about their lives in more and more parts of the country. Anyhow, I do feel that while there will never exist such a thing as true equality, that we are moving towards a more reasonable level of fairness within the confines of our unfair reality.

  2. Nice commentary. I just wish that Dr. West would channel his intellect in more positive ways than degrading our President for reasons, as you pointed out, that aren’t really warranted. He could be a remarkable agent for change in our society if he would just do that. Love him or hate him, Dr. West always has something interesting to say.

  3. Donnita –
    Well, you certainly got some comments…. Any idea how these folks found you? Are they folks you know or was it the content? It’s one of the questions we will be talking about throughout the semester.

    I think you have some good points here, and I appreciate the link to the video. My comment on content is that some would contest the “purity” of the life Dr. King lived and Dr. West sometimes forgets that even figures are historically brilliant as Dr. King were also human.

    In terms of the assignment, you did a good job with the link, but most folks won’t watch the whole thing. If you can give them a little more info regarding the content itself, that would be good. And think about contrasting view other than your own – just as another thought. Good job.

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