Cornel West celebrates MLK’s legacy

Amber Jones and Amber Jones

While the University and community are tackling issues including sanctuary campuses, concealed carry and condemning discrimination against the Muslim community, Dr. Cornel West invited students into his domain of optimism and philosophies of social justice in celebration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“By the number of people in our audience, it truly reflects the sincere interest that the BGSU family has in learning about one of countries influential leaders and keeping with his dream and keeping it alive,” Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Thomas Gibson said.

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Dr. West continued this tribute of Dr. King by reflecting on the wisdom and passion he had in advancing maintaining social justice within all communities. Acknowledging the difficult times of the country, Dr. West pushed for service and empathy in dark times.

“We live in some very, very difficult times and we need the love, courage, vision and sense of service and sacrifice of Martin Luther King Jr. more now than ever,” Dr. West said. 

Dr. West praised Dr. King on his love and service to the community acknowledging that in order to advance social justice, Dr. King centered his work and advocacy on family, faith and education. Dr. West described him as being a “human being injected with love from the people around him.”

“When we talk about Martin Luther King Jr., we must never use him as some isolated icon in a museum that is static and stationary but rather a wave in an ocean. He’s part of a tradition,” Dr. West said.

To maintain the tradition of social consciousness and empathy that Dr. King advocated for, Dr. West emphasized that to maintain this tradition, it is time for young people of all ethnicities and sexual orientations to carry out and keep Dr. King’s traditions alive.

While being in the age of social media and extensive advocacy, Dr. West pinpoints the rise of spiritual “malnutrition” and materialism in cultures that Dr. King spoke on. He describes materialism as a culture that has now deified being a brand rather than fighting for a cause, saying that we are in a time of “spiritual malnutrition.” Dr. West emphasized that Dr. King was not focusing on being a brand but a “drum major for justice and righteousness.”

“Focus on the subject matter. We have to get beyond the lust of materialism and get to the love of justice and empowering people who have been losing for so long,” he said.

In order for the people to move forward as a society and as a unit, Dr. West expressed the need to shatter the sleepwalking so that action and discourse can take place with social injustices of all and having a fair rule of law being implemented to maintain the voice and rights of the people.

“I’m glad Bowling Green State was able to have someone here who is very influential especially in the time we are living in now,” USG President Amanda Dortch, member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. “The biggest thing now is action, living in love and the importance of not only saying things but doing them as well and that’s something we need to continue in Bowling Green.”

Audience members were able to ask Dr. West questions after the speech, most of them centered on a call for action involving issues of sanctuary campuses, prejudices and ways to provide progression and love in communities.

Dr. West reitorated the need for students to take the ideas he discussed and take action.

“We got Dr. King’s spirit, we got his legacy. Let’s see what we are going to do with it,” Dr. West said.