Cornel R. West

Cornel R. West

Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy
Photo of Cornel West

On Leave Fall 2020

Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. He has taught at Yale, Harvard, the University of Paris, Princeton, and, most recently, Union Theological Seminary. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his MA and PhD in philosophy at Princeton. He has written 20 books and has edited 13. He is best known for his classics Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. He appears frequently on the Bill Maher Show, CNN, C-Span, and on Tavis Smiley’s PBS TV Show.

He made his film debut in the Matrix—and was the commentator (with Ken Wilbur) on the official trilogy released in 2004. He also has appeared in over 25 documentaries and films including Examined Life, Call + Response, Sidewalk, and Stand.

Last, he has made three spoken word albums including Never Forget, collaborating with Prince, Jill Scott, Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, KRS-One, and Gerald Levert. His spoken word interludes were featured on Terence Blanchard’s Choices (which won the Grand Prix in France for the best Jazz Album of the year of 2009), The Cornel West Theory’s Second Rome, Raheem DeVaughn’s Grammy-nominated Love & War: Masterpeace, and most recently on Bootsy Collins’ The Funk Capital of the World. Cornel West has a passion to communicate to a vast variety of publics in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.—a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.


  • AB, Harvard University
  • MA, PhD, Princeton University

Selected publications

  • Brother West: Loving and Living Out Loud (Smiley Books, 2009) Amazon
  • Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism (Penguin Books, 2004) Publisher page
  • Race Matters (Beacon Press, 1993) Publisher page

Full list of books found at


Kristin Gunst

For media inquiries or requests, please contact Professor West’s assistant.